Camden County Habitat creates housing for low-income residents of Camden, and then support those residents with financial education classes and hands-on construction training.
Social science shows increasingly that access to affordable housing is the foundation for overall improvement in low-income family outcomes: it improves mental and physical health, performance in school, and job retention, while reducing self-destructive and antisocial behaviors. Beyond benefit to individual families, affordable housing is the cornerstone to the economic vitality of entire communities, attracting employees and employers, and building tax base.
Camden City is in the midst of far-reaching plans to demolish aging and abandoned housing, limiting the number of available homes to poor residents, and increasing the need for affordable housing. Currently there are just a few nonprofit builders serving the County’s low-income residents, and none have a better track record than Camden County Habitat for Humanity (CCHH). Since its inception in 1986, CCHH has helped over 55 families – about than 325 individuals — achieve home ownership, provided over $1M to Camden’s tax base, and provided job training to over 500 Community Works Experience Program volunteers.
Habitat’s model has proven to be successful nationwide, showing that it can be fiscally prudent to loan money to families of very modest means. Fully 89 percent of all Habitat families are completely current on their mortgage payments, a higher rate than for conventional mortgages. Moreover, since 1976 the organization’s cumulative foreclosure rate has been less than 1 percent—a far better record than for federally subsidized programs for poor home owners, which in the late sixties and early seventies had foreclosure rates as high as 35 percent. Habitat believes its low foreclosure rate corresponds to the emotional stake families have in homes they have physically helped to build.