Harold Tessendorf, with Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity, spoke to RCSE.  Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity promotes strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.  Affordable housing is an important component when trying to reduce poverty but is one that is often times overlooked.  A statistic from February 2017 showed the average monthly rent for a 2- bedroom living space in Savannah was $900 and wages have not been able to keep up with the increase cost of housing.  
 
 
Since Coastal Empire started in 1983, they have been able to serve 137 families.  Three of those families were foreclosed and Habitat "recycled" those homes and found another family to purchase it.  In order to build a house, Habitat brings together the partner household (the ones who will be living in the house), donors and volunteers.  The partner household must agree to contribute 350 hours of sweat equity in the house and attend classes that help them learn the ropes of home ownership.  Once the project is complete, Habitat sells the house to the partner family and they then pay mortgage to Habitat.  Partner households are picked based on need, steady income, and their commitment to volunteer.  32 of the families have already paid off their mortgages and 38 Habitat homeowners and their children have graduated college (5 with advanced degrees).  Habitat averages 3-4 homes per year with a goal of 10 homes per year in the future.
 
You can become involved with Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity by liking their page on Facebook, making donations, volunteering, advocating for affordable housing, or shopping at the ReStore which is located at 701 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.  Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity contributes around $1.2 million a year to the local economy.  
 
 
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