Fifty homes. Fifty Gloucester County families.
The Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity (GCHFH) officially broke ground in early December on the 50th house to be built by the local affiliate since its inception in 1986.
“I am very proud of our organization for this accomplishment”, said Habitat Executive Director Anthony Isabella in a press release. “Fifty families in Gloucester County have attained the dream of home ownership where they can grow their families, celebrate holidays and generally have a safe and decent place to live.”
GCHFH and its volunteers are building the house on a lot donated by the Borough of Glassboro and funded by the Gloucester County Planning Board and South Jersey Federal Credit Union, which will provide the partner family with a mortgage to purchase the home. Within a few months, the organization will host volunteers from Boston College and Women Build International.
The project location, at 311 Cleveland Ave. in Glassboro, is coincidentally one town over from the first house GCHFH built 32 years ago in Pitman. Since that first house, the organization’s capacity to build has risen substantially. Between 1986 and 2012, GCHFH built about 28 homes. Since 2012, it has built 22.
It used to take the group two years to build a single home, according to Isabella. Now, it takes them about six to nine months.
“It’s just an amazing feat,” he added.
The rise in home building during the last eight years is due primarily to an increase in dedicated volunteers and local corporate and municipal sponsorships, Isabella explained.
In recent years the organization also has seen an increase in funds from individuals, churches and corporate donors. GCHFH also conducts fundraising events such as the Annual Casino Night and the Walk for Humanity. Just over 10 years ago, the group started a retail operation known as ReStore, which buys and sells donated furniture and home furnishes. The proceeds received from the store, at 425 S. Broadway, go directly toward the mission to build affordable housing.
“We couldn’t be successful at our mission if we didn’t have the support that we have now,” Isabella noted.
That support has allowed GCHFH to branch out into other community initiatives. Since 2015, the organization has partnered with the county in a program that donates ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act)-compliant access ramps to disabled residents. The ramps are funded by the county and built by GCHFH volunteers for any person with a need at home.
So far, the partnership has helped 25 disabled residents in the county.
For more information on the GCHFH, visit www.gc-habitat.org.