But after speaking with Habitat staff, she learned about the Homeowner Assistance Fund. Through Habitat’s Cost of Home campaign, Habitat for Humanity, our communities and partners across the U.S. successfully advocated — sending emails, making phones calls and hosting meetings with congressional representatives and leveraging the media — for the $9.96 billion fund to support homeowners at risk of default, foreclosure and displacement because of the COVID-19 pandemic to be included in the American Rescue Plan. Mattie applied, was approved and was able to receive assistance. After successfully making mortgage payments for more than a decade, it was a huge relief for her to remain in her beloved home and neighborhood where her roots run deep. Mattie once again has the security and stability to focus on managing her health and to continue helping others in her community.
Since Habitat’s Cost of Home campaign launched in 2019, Whirlpool Corporation has collaborated in the work to access more stable, affordable homes for people like Mattie — helping to secure more than 200 policy wins across the U.S. Through the five-year Cost of Home campaign, Habitat for Humanity is mobilizing local Habitat organizations, partners, volunteers and community members across the country to find the solutions and help create the policies that will allow 10 million individuals to meet their most basic needs.
Below is a roundup of the policy wins experienced through the Cost of Home campaign to date by Habitat for Humanity affiliates in areas where Whirlpool Corp. is located:
Fiscal Year 2021
Supply and preservation of affordable homes
In Ohio, Preble Habitat advocated locally for their commissioners to allocate $50,000 of the local Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) funding for a housing program to assist homeowners with mortgage and utility payments. Once this allocation was made, the affiliate’s executive director chaired the allocation plan’s working committee. This funding will assist approximately 50 individuals.
Under the leadership of Habitat Michigan, a sign-on letter was organized, which influenced Governor Whitmer to include $100 million in the budget for the state American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Governor said those funds will assist 6,000 Michigan residents with their housing needs.
Good News Habitat, in Richmond, Indiana, worked in conjunction with the local economic development committee to attract housing developers and the local Wayne County Foundation to promote affordable housing. Their goal was to lobby the city to make affordable housing more accommodating, rather than restricting, in their economic revitalization efforts. They partnered with neighborhood associations through the Neighborhood Involvement and Community Engagement (NICE) Program and received funds to help build 15 homes.
Communities of Opportunity
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati partnered with the Lower Price Hill neighborhood to provide affordable homeownership opportunities for parents of students at the school at the center of the community. This is a significant commitment for the affiliate because the rehabs are costly and take a long time. In October 2020, the affiliate joined three other non-profits to advocate for $1 million in project funding from the City of Cincinnati to support a project planned by one of the organizations to rehab 46 apartment units in Lower Price Hill. Unfortunately, the City of Cincinnati denied the funding request, putting the first major rehabilitation of multi-family units in the neighborhood in jeopardy. Habitat Greater Cincinnati joined the advocacy effort and testified at a Cincinnati Council committee hearing to advocate for the funding, encouraging the city to reconsider investing in the project. Subsequently, the City Administration found the funds and committed $1 million to the project to enable the rehab of 46 apartment units to move forward. This effort resulted in improved housing conditions for an estimated 96 individuals.
Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, successfully advocated for the At-Home in Pittsfield program, which is an exterior renovation loan program that enables eligible homeowners to renovate the outside of their homes through a combination of funding from local lenders and the City of Pittsfield. Central Berkshire Habitat played a leading role in advocating for the program, and the affiliate will also be a partner in its implementation. The city will receive $500,000 from this Cost of Home policy win. Central Berkshire Habitat also successfully petitioned Governor Baker for COVID relief funding for non-profits and small businesses. This advocacy resulted in $78,500,000 for non-profit organizations and small businesses that experienced economic hardship due to the pandemic.
Access to credit
In 2020, Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Michigan advocated against House Bill 5097, which would allow payday lenders to give out small loans for up to $2,500. The monthly fees on the loan would be 11% of the principal of the loan, with an annual percentage rate of 132%, meaning a borrower could end up paying more than $7,000 on a $2,500 two-year loan. In addition, HB 5097 established no term limits on the length of the loans, resulting in borrowers getting into a perpetual debt trap. Habitat for Humanity of Michigan and affiliates across the state collaborated with several other housing organizations and met with 35 legislators, urging them to vote against HB 5097. Ultimately, HB 5097 died before getting a vote in the Michigan Senate committee.
Fiscal Year 2022
Supply and preservation of affordable homes
Since May 2021, Habitat Michigan has advocated for budget items in Senate Bill 565 relating to critical home repairs, missing middle housing, and development of a Housing and Community Development Fund. In March 2022, the legislation was signed by Governor Whitmer. This effort was a collaboration between Habitat Michigan, the state’s network of affiliates, and partner organizations like Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), Michigan Community Capital and the Michigan State Land Bank. Habitat Michigan was touted as influential on these budget items thanks to the network’s increased education of Legislators.
Habitat Ohio successfully lobbied the Ohio Department of Development to increase its Ohio Housing Trust Fund grant allocation from $90,000 to $500,000 over a two-year period. The pilot project in 2020 was successful despite the pandemic. The increase in funding will enable Habitat Ohio to now serve 50 families statewide.
In partnership with the Marion Housing Coalition, Buckeye Ridge Habitat for Humanity advocated for The Marion County Land Bank to focus on neighborhood revitalization, rehabilitation standards, threshold requirements for purchase of Land Bank properties, and developing capacity for affordable housing. The County Land Bank voted to adopt these 10 recommendations from the Housing Coalition.
Access to credit
In Indiana, Habitat affiliates advocated against Indian SB 352, a harmful policy that would target low-income families and high-cost subprime lending. They reached out to legislators and mobilized the influence of the board. Because of their coalition efforts, the bill was stopped and did not come to a vote, protecting low-income families in the state from high-cost lending.
As Habitat continues to scale our collective impact through policy solutions at the local, state and federal levels all across the U.S., we are grateful for Whirlpool Corporation’s support and look forward to together, helping more people have access to an affordable home.