Orange County is a wonderful place to live and raise a family, we all can agree. However, many in the area struggle to raise children in costly yet substandard housing, the only option available to them due to the area’s high cost of living. Habitat for Humanity of Orange County has done amazing work in helping Veteran, low-income and moderate-income Orange County families into homes where they can thrive. The nonprofit offers homeownership and home improvement services as well as neighborhood revitalization programs.
Gladys Hernandez, Director of Communications, and her team put their hearts into their work, passionately spreading awareness for the nonprofits initiatives. One of her team’s main focuses is to inspire others to give back to the community through volunteering. We recently got the chance to ask Gladys some questions about Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, its programs, the community’s needs and volunteering:
What makes Orange County such a great area for Habitat for Humanity projects and services? What makes Orange County families so deserving?
Orange County has a big need for affordable housing. Many families pay more than 1/3 of their monthly income for housing and meet the income and socio-economic profile of Habitat partner families. As a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in close proximity to major U.S. military installations, we are uniquely positioned to partner with veterans along with civilian families.
- $645,000 Median price of an Orange County home (April 2016)
- $1,753 Average monthly OC apartment rent (April 2016)
- $66,000 Annual income required to afford the rent of a typical two-bedroom apartment in Orange County (August 2015)
- $48,750 Income earned by Habitat OC family of four (50% of AMI)
- For 76% of post-9/11 veterans working fulltime, the annual salary is below the California median income level of approximately $67,000
- At just over 130,000, Orange County currently has the fourth-largest veteran population in California.
(Sources: CoreLogic, Reis Inc., Orange County Register)
What do you look for in a project site in Orange County?
Habitat OC homes are built using donations of land, material and labor. Since 1988, Habitat OC has received land donated by cities in Orange County. This is the only form of government funding Habitat OC receives.
What is it like to hand over the keys to the new homeowners?
At Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, we build homes from the ground up, but it’s the foundation that we offer a child that is at the heart of our mission. We rejoice in knowing acts of volunteerism and philanthropy from our donors and volunteers have resulted in hundreds of local children having a better place to sleep at night. At each Habitat OC home dedication we look into their eyes, see their smiles, and know their futures are brighter. It’s thrilling to see the excited children and the gratified parents walk through their homes for the first time. Homes they helped build with their own hands, thanks to you. Recently, a homeowner shared she had a gift for us. Her gift to us is her children. Donors, volunteers, and Habitat OC gave her a home and in return she will give us future doctors and nurses. Her home allows her to make sure her children continue their schooling and develop a sense of philanthropy. Because of the volunteers and donors who decided to give, this family will offer the community four professionals.
What kinds of volunteers do you need on your upcoming projects? What is the best way for someone to get in touch with Habitat for Humanity OC to start volunteering?
In order to help families attain the American dream of homeownership, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County (Habitat OC) needs the help of men and women who are interested in volunteering. Interested individuals have the opportunity to work alongside the future Habitat OC homeowners and other passionate volunteers. Whether it is photography, office work, helping to build homes or serve in our Habitat ReStore, we would love to have you volunteer and make a difference in the lives of families in Orange County. No experience necessary! To learn more, we invite you to join us at our upcoming volunteer orientation we like to call Habitat Night. Orientations are hosted the first Tuesday of every month, with some exceptions in observance of holidays, and are highly recommended to attend.
To learn more about Habitat for Humanity volunteer opportunities and how you can help deserving Orange County families, click here. Thank you to Habitat for Humanity of Orange County for all you do!