Charity Joins Top Home Builders' Ranks
Habitat for Humanity Keeps Putting Up Houses as Nation's Biggest Companies Cut Back;
'A Lot Less Tied to the Market'
From the Wall Street Journal
EAST PATCHOGUE, N.Y.—A dozen female volunteers gathered recently in this blue-collar Long Island town, enduring the heat to help form the entryway of an 1,100-square foot home for Cheri Sabolenko and her two young children.
The Sabolenko house will soon join more than 5,000 other homes expected to be built, repaired and rehabilitated in the U.S. this year by a well-known addition to the upper echelon of America's largest home builders: the nonprofit group Habitat for Humanity International.
As the housing and financial crisis struck several years ago, the large publicly traded builders, including D.R. Horton Inc. and KB Home, pulled back. But Habitat kept building.
"We're a lot less tied to the market as a whole," said Mark Andrews, Habitat's senior director for U.S. operations. "We've been able to keep chugging along at a pretty solid pace."
As a result, Habitat, a Christian group founded 34 years ago in Americus, Ga., around a philosophy of constructing and rehabilitating homes for low-income families, was recently ranked as one of the nation's top 10 builders for the first time in a closely watched industry list compiled by Builder Magazine.
Habitat was ranked eighth, based on the number of homes sold and closed, placing it above Ryland Group Inc. and behind Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. Habitat's closings, which include new homes and rehabs, were down 3% to 5,294 in 2009. Ryland's tumbled 30%, while Hovnanian's sank 50%.
But this is the part that I really like:
In June, Wells Fargo announced an $8 million contribution to Habitat, which said the funds will help its neighborhood rehabilitation program. Last year, Habitat completed 710 rehabs, a count that should increase this year, while its new-build count could fall by about 8%, the group estimates.Wells Fargo has been a long-time supporter of Habitat, both through contributions and volunteers. I'm proud of the work we do to help in our communities.