May 2, 2006 — Some V.I. residents are living in homes with dirt floors and no plumbing. Others are living with 10 to 12 people in an apartment meant for three or four.
"You would not believe the situations," said attorney and Habitat for Humanity of the USVI President Tom Bolt.
The local Habitat organization, one of the territory's newest nonprofits, is dedicated to helping low-income families attain much-needed affordable housing. The organization has acquired its first property to work on; they just need the funding to work on it.
The kickoff event of the organization's first fund-raising campaign is a Sunday brunch at Coral World from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7. Tickets to the event are $60 and include admission to the marine park.
Clive Rainey, the very first Habitat volunteer and current public relations director for Habitat for Humanity International, will be the guest speaker.
The Louis Taylor Quartet will perform light jazz music during the event.
Habitat for Humanity of the USVI is the international organization's newest affiliate. All Habitat for Humanity affiliates are nonprofit organizations. Volunteers for Habitat International renovate, rehab and build affordable homes for low-income people.
The local chapter has offices in Royal Dane Mall, and organization members have already heard from many interested volunteers and many more in need of housing.
"Now we need to put shovel to earth and get this home built," Bolt said.
Their first project is a home that needs renovations in Adele Gade on St. Thomas. Cecile Galiber deJongh and her family donated the property. DeJongh is a board member of Habitat for Humanity of the USVI, and the property belonged to her grandmother.
Habitat is working toward raising $85,000 for the project. The brunch Sunday at Coral World is the first of several events scheduled in May and June to raise money and garner support.
In addition, Bolt said, "We're hoping to carry out this message of safe, affordable housing."
Millard and Linda Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976 in Georgia. Now an international organization, Habitat's volunteers and staff have built or renovated more than 200,000 homes, providing decent affordable housing to more than 1 million people. Those who receive housing from the organization have to provide a small down-payment, pay a mortgage and help build their own home, as well as homes for others in a program Habitat calls "sweat equity." Families are chosen as homeowners based on several factors, including their needs, willingness to participate and volunteer, and their ability to pay the loan.
More information on Habitat for Humanity is available at the organization's Web site.
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