Monday, November 28, 2005

Rebuilding Hope and Habitat

I've donated my photographs to Habitat For Humanity to use in money-raising efforts to aid Hancock County, Mississippi, where my mom's little town of Pearlington is. There was no established Habitat chapter in Hancock before Katrina, so the efforts are actually being led by the chapter in Walton County, Florida. They hope to build 100 homes for displaced people in Pearlington, and are trying to get them up as fast as possible as we get deeper into winter.

This is good, important work, vital work. It's being done right now, in America, by Americans. You can help them, you can help us. Fuck the news stories about how much money Wal-Mart made on Black Friday. This is the news story, and it's not on CNN anymore. Please share this with friends, families, blogs, Myspace, anything. Let people know there's something they can still do. They need money, they need volunteers, they need attention, media coverage, all of the above. Please don't let this fade away...

Habitat for Humanity of Walton County needs your help to build homes in Hancock County for families affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Hancock County is the most western county in Mississippi along the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Katrina brought widespread devastation to the county with 40 confirmed deaths and millions of dollars of property damage. Nearly 70% of the county’s homes were left uninhabitable. The coastal communities were among the hardest hit areas. Pearlington, a small community of 2,200 people, was particularly devastated, as nearly every home was either completely destroyed or severely damaged. There is no Habitat for Humanity affiliate along this area of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Hundreds of residents are living in tents in the aftermath of Katrina. Many have only what they were able to salvage, and in many cases they have nothing at all. Basic necessities are still hard to come by, most of all shelter.

Habitat for Humanity of Walton County Florida in partnership with The Hurricane Relief Coalition, New Hope Construction, Walton County community volunteer organizations, local churches and individuals are working together to raise money to quickly build temporary housing for the families of Pearlington, Waveland and other rural coastal communities of Hancock County.

We are seeking donations of $2 million to be used for immediate construction of more than a hundred homes in Hancock County. The needs are enormous, and while this effort barely begins to scratch the surface, it will at least be a start, making a real difference to individual families that have lost so much. Your contribution could help a family have a home by this winter.

Habitat for Humanity of Walton County will administer the program, managing funds, coordinating volunteers, qualifying tenants/buyers. Habitat for Humanity has a proven system in place to provide housing to the most affected people with a minimum of red tape. They ensure contributed funds will not be used in the place of any existing government relief effort, and that these funds will be used immediately for our efforts in Hancock County.

New Hope Construction has partnered with Habitat to design and construct efficient, comfortable and affordable transitional housing. New Hope Construction is a non-profit, 501c3 corporation that designs and manufactures complete, high quality, pre-framed house packages that are ready for on-site assembly.

Since 1996, New Hope has partnered with churches, Habitat for Humanity affiliates, and other non-profit organizations to provide housing for low-income families. Its commitment to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Walton County and the Walton County Hurricane Relief Coalition confirms their strong vision and mission, and makes possible our efforts to provide housing relief in Hancock County.

During the Mississippi Renewal Forum held in Biloxi six weeks after Hurricane Katrina, leading architects and town planners addressed the problems and possibilities of rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Innovative schemes for temporary, modular and prefabricated housings by architects were proposed and discussed. During the six-day forum, architects involved with the towns of Seaside, WaterColor, and Alys Beach created designs for a variety of housing options. Several of these designs are currently in production by New Hope Construction for this project.

Two homes with different floor plans and elevations have been selected as part of this rebuilding program – the Coastal Cottage and the Beach Bungalow. Comprised of approximately 300 – 400 square feet, these efficient houses are fully furnished to accommodate a family. The interiors include a living and kitchen area, bedroom, bathroom, and designated sleeping space for children. The houses are portable and are adaptable to almost any location. Although designed to be temporary shelter for up to 18 months, these structures can be expanded and converted to permanent housing. With engaging details and inviting front porches, these cottages promise to be a major improvement over other temporary housing units. These designs are livable and likable – a lot more like a real home.

We are seeking sponsors to fund one of more of these homes. Sponsors can choose between two possible designs, the Coastal Cottage or the Beach Bungalow. A plaque will be placed in each home commemorating the individuals who made this dream a reality.

New Hope Construction will assemble the materials, pre-framed walls and trusses, and ship the units directly to Hancock County. Volunteers from Walton County will assemble the structures and add finishing touches to the homes on site. Working with established Habitat for Humanity policies, housing will be made available to qualifying families for a period of 6 months with two automatic renewals if necessary. Assistance will not exceed 18 months from the date of initial tenant agreement unless extraordinary circumstances through no fault of the applicant dictate a 6 month extension. All renewals are subject to review and approval. Homes will be provided under a tenant/lease agreement at no or reduced cost to qualifying applicants. Financial ability of the household will be considered as part of the needs assessment. As a family reaches sustainability, receives insurance settlements and moves to a permanent home, the unit will be passed on to another family. These cottages can be reused as long as necessary, even for future disasters. They may be sold to qualified applicants or residents who choose to make the home permanent. Using Habitat for Humanity’s Family Selection criteria, qualifying families may choose to convert and expand the temporary unit to permanent housing and pay a no-profit, no-interest mortgage for a term of 20 years.
“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
For information about Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, as well as updates and photographs of Hancock County and the first houses, visit, New Hope Construction at, or Mississippi Renewal Forum at

To volunteer to work on a home in Hancock County, please contact Shannon Erwin at or call (850) 835-0067.

Media interested in information, please contact Kim Turner at or Lynn Nesmith at or call (850) 231-3770.

If you would like to discuss a contribution, please contact Ronnie McBrayer at or call (850) 825-0067.

Habitat for Humanity believes this is very cost-effective program for providing housing so desperately needed in Hancock County. We are seeking donations to further fund this program, with a goal of raising $2 million that will be used for immediate construction of houses.

Your contribution could help a Hancock County family displaced by Hurricane Katrina have a home by winter.

All donations are tax deductible. The federal government has made an allowance for additional 2005 tax deduction incentives for donations made to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts before December 31, 2005. Please consult your tax professional for details.


Anonymous said...

Putting a link on my page as well as donating. Thanks for the heads up.

missbhavens said...

Thanks for the info. Will add the direct links (as well as this post) into my page.

Anonymous said...

The Walton County Habitat for Humanity is working in conjunction with New Hope Construction.

You can view the transitional houses they are putting up at - as well as donate directly through them.

Unfortunately, is not updated to reflect their 2 million dollar fund raising effort for Hancock County. But - you can still donate directly through the website or their phone numbers posted.

If you *really* want to help - start calling your local universities and community colleges for new fund raising efforts to occur in the January semester. Also think about donating your TIME.

If you want more information, call the Walton County Habitat. They have a schedule established and can plug you in where needed, or take you when you have time. They are NOT fussy.

There is a lady up here in NYS that is setting up a data base as well as trip schedules to help where YOUR skills are most needed.

Posting on your websites is fine and great. But action is needed as well. And action can be as simple as picking up the phone and facing the possibility someone will say no to you. But you'll never know if they would say YES until you try.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting. We've had interest and inquires directly from your website.

Transitional housing is something Habitat for Humanity International has avoided; the massive funds they have raised will go toward permanent construction. Our $2 million goal is for transitional housing to get people out of tents and condemned houses.

We need volunteers, now, and in the coming Spring.

Thanks again for posting this information - and for the pictures.

Ronnie McBrayer
Executive Director
Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, Florida

Schroeder said...

Right on - what was all that Black Friday news anyway? Who freakin' gives a damn?!

Anonymous said...

I checked out New Hope Construction's web site. The information on the FAQ states that the packages they provide are generally no more than $28.00 a sf. The cost/sf for these transitional structures comes out to $32 - $46 per sf. Has this question been addressed? Beware...

Donna-Jean Breckenridge said...

I'm in a church in New Jersey that has not forgotten. We have sent men down to work, we're sending them again and again, we have sent down food and gifts and money and everything we can. I read your blog all the time. I know I'm part of the evangelical Christian culture that is different from your viewpoint, so this is the first time I've commented - but I just wanted to tell you we care and we haven't forgotten, and we won't forget. I think of your mom and brother a lot.