Habitat for Humanity builds more than homes

Habitat for Humanity builds more than homes

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Charitable homebuilder contributed $24 million and hundreds of jobs in Iowa
students working on a habitiat for humanity houseFile photo by Tom Jorgensen.
habitat for humanity logo

The state chapter of Habitat for Humanity contributed $24 million to Iowa’s economy and accounted for hundreds of jobs, according to a study by the University of Iowa’s Public Policy Center of the charitable home building organization’s statewide impact.

Habitat for Humanity of Iowa approached the center’s Housing and Land Use Policy Program to conduct the study. The report covers the organization's activities in 2011.

UI groups that assisted on Habitat projects in 2012-13:

College of Business
Department of Ophthalmology
Iowa Valley Student Medical Satellite Chapter
College of Law
Iowa Student Association of Healthcare Leaders
Catholic Ladies in College
Iowa Campus Crusade International
WISE (Women in Science and Engineering)
BiostatisticsStudent Organization
Female Majority Leadership Alliance
UI Dance Club
Saucy Nancy Ultimate - UI Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team
UI Environmental Coalition
UI Photography Club
Pi Kappa Alpha
Sigma Theta Tau
Delta Tau Delta
Delta Zeta
Delta Sigma Theta
Zeta Tau Alpha
Chi Omega
Kappa Sigma
Chi Epsilon
Sigma Nu

Source: Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity

The study shows that 34 Habitat affiliates had more than 100 employees and paid $13 million in direct wages, building materials, construction labor, and other operating costs. Habitat spending resulted in a monetary output of $23.7 million with earnings of $9.7 million and the creation of 227 jobs.

“Habitat housing is an excellent example of collaboration between local community partners and low-income working families that need decent, reasonably priced homes,” says Jerry Anthony, director of the Housing and Land Use Policy Program.

The researchers used regional input-output analysis to estimate the total impacts to Iowa’s economy that resulted from money directly spent and wages directly paid by Habitat for Humanity.

“Habitat houses pay property taxes and therefore add to local government tax revenues,” Anthony says. The homes built by Habitat helped to increase potential property tax revenue by $175,147, he adds.

Compared to other state’s Habitat for Humanity studies, the economic impacts presented in the report are a conservative estimate of Habitat’s impacts because no single analysis can capture the benefits of all of the services that Habitat provides, the authors note.

Lisa Houser, Habitat for Humanity of Iowa’s executive director, praised the report for documenting the full scope of her organization’s activities and impact.

"This study gives us quantitative results that we can stand behind and attest to others about the benefits of partnering with Habitat for Humanity to serve more families through affordable homeownership," she says.

“The University of Iowa’s Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter, Homecoming Council, Medical Student Habitat for Humanity Group, Environmental Coalition, College of Public Health, and many fraternities, sororities, and athletic teams have provided funds, volunteer labor, and advocacy for our organization throughout the years,” says Theresa Burns of Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity, which organizes and oversees the Iowa City builds.

The UI has assisted for years on multiple Habitat projects in the Iowa City area. Currently, the UI’s Department of Ophthalmology is gearing up for its first home building with Habitat for Humanity build in June. The department hopes to complete the house by early fall, just in time for the family to move in before colder weather sets in.

The study was conducted by Anthony and Sally Scott of the Public Policy Center, and Andrea Uhl, graduate teaching assistant in the School of Urban & Regional Planning.


Jerry Anthony, Public Policy Center, 319-335-0622
Richard Lewis, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0012


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