Archive for August, 2011

Habitat for Humanity has lowest forclosure percentages

While most lenders are overwhelmed by crushing caseloads of delinquent home loans and foreclosures, Habitat for Humanity International and their affiliates are telling a different story.

Habitat for Humanity is the Americus, Ga.-based nonprofit company that builds thousands of homes for lower-income Americans each year. Habitat also originates mortgages on the homes and, in most cases, holds the loans on its books. In 2010, it ranked as the one of the nation’s largest builders, constructing nearly 4,600 new homes nationwide. The group also fixed up and resold more than 1,400 homes.

Most of Habitat’s borrowers have household incomes below the median in their area — a population often at risk for foreclosure. But Habitat says foreclosures are minimal.

A recent study led by the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, commissioned by Habitat’s Dallas branch, found that Habitat’s foreclosures in the Dallas market were less than 2% last year. Although the report looked only at the Dallas office of Habitat, the findings mirror those found in other Habitat offices across the country, the organization says.

As politicians and economists disagree on whether and to what degree low-income Americans should be encouraged to own homes — some even blame lenders’ outreach to low-income borrowers for the housing collapse — Habitat’s case indicates that these borrowers can receive mortgages without high default levels.

“They deserve to have the opportunity to build wealth through real-estate appreciation just like anyone else,” says Jack McCabe, a housing analyst with McCabe Research & Consulting in Deerfield Beach, Fla. “That’s been the American dream.”

But that doesn’t mean catering to families on tight budgets is easy. Cash-strapped borrowers need plenty of hand-holding and support. They need an easy way to get back on track when they slip behind because of emergencies or special occasions, says Lynette Pearl, director of homeowner and neighborhood support for the Dallas Habitat chapter.

In Dallas, worried homeowners are urged to call any time to discuss financial issues, and the organization can receive dozens of calls a day as troubled homeowners leave multiple messages.

“We don’t have a problem with our families getting behind, as long as they’re talking with us,” says Bill Hall, the Dallas Habitat’s chief executive.

Upfront screening could help
Becoming a Habitat homeowner is not easy. Applicants must show a solid work and credit history. Once selected, recipients complete homeownership education that covers the added costs of owning over renting, how to pay bills and home maintenance.

Habitat is known for requiring homeowners to help build their home. Although the demands differ in each market — the national average is 300 hours — Habitat says homeowners are less likely to walk away from homes they helped construct.

“Before they actually move into the house, they’re invested,” Pearl says.

In Dallas, homes cost between $80,000 and $100,000. Recipients receive interest-free mortgages for 30 years, and mortgage payments range from $500 to $800 per month, which includes taxes and insurance, depending on income.

The organization doesn’t build McMansions; it’s known for no-frills homes erected on free or low-cost lots. Local governments often donate land in ailing neighborhoods, hoping the new owners will help revitalize the community. The Dallas report estimates that every $1 the organization spends generates $3.18 of economic impact. Much of this impact is felt directly in troubled neighborhoods, stabilizing vales and preventing foreclosures.

Keeping tabs on homeowners
Unlike traditional lenders, Habitat checks back several times with new owners. The Dallas chapter noticed that its late payments spike in September, when families spend money on school clothes and supplies, and in the winter, when they shop for holiday gifts.

It partnered with a local nonprofit to distribute free supplies. The group also helps its families get free tax preparation: Delinquent homeowners often use their tax refund to catch up on missed payments.

That’s different from traditional lenders, who slap on late fee upon late fee, making it hard for the borrower to get back on track. Of course, Habitat’s late payers don’t get off entirely. The Dallas Habitat, which sells its loans to a local bank, covers any missed payments and tacks on a late fee of 4% of the principal: The average payment is $8 for each late month.

“It’s only meant to remind them that they’re late. It’ not meant to punish them,” Hall says. We aren’t here to knock you down and foreclose. We’re here to help you through it.”

Large lenders, and servicers including Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, don’t have the time or manpower to field calls every time an owner misses a monthly payment. But they could learn from Habitat’s business model: Screen buyers, educate in advance, make homeowners work for their down payment and get them to pay what they can, when they can.

“These are practices that I think any bank should implement, particularly after looking at the foreclosures in the last five years,” says Paul Hendershot, lead author of the Dallas Habitat report and an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas.

By Dawn Wotapka of The Wall Street Journal

We can’t say it enough…

For our mission to be successful, we need your help.

Our mission is:

“To alleviate poverty housing on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation by recruiting Habitat partner families, help them build their homes, and provide long term support thereby creating responsible homeowners within the community.”

Note:

Dacotah Tipis is a Habitat for Humanity International affiliate located on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The Crow Creek Indian Reservation is very much in need of adequate affordable housing. We need volunteers or groups of volunteers interested in working for a day, weekend, or more to help build the homes we are building in our private 5 acre development.

ROAST BEEF DINNER & SILENT AUCTION

Please attend our annual Habitat Fundraiser


St. Joseph Parish Hall

Fort Thompson, SD

Sunday September 4th, 2011

11:30 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.

Roast Beef Dinner Plate:

  • Adults $3.00
  • Children $1.50
  • Sponsored by Habitat for Humanity – Dacotah Tipis

    For more Information, contact:

    Jim Huntley at 605-245-2450

    www.dacotahtipis.org

    The Jimmy Carter – Habitat for Humanity Connection

    A common myth is that Jimmy Carter started Habitat for Humanity.

    The reason is because the former President has been such a high profile spokesman and contributor.

    President Jimmy Carter is committed to social justice and basic human rights. He became involved   with Millard Fuller and Habitat for Humanity in 1984. Since then, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife  Rosalynn give a week of their time to build Habitat homes, and raise awareness of the need for affordable housing.

    2011 Carter Work Project

    In 2011, President and Mrs. Carter will join volunteers to build homes with families in Léogâne, Haiti Nov. 5-12.

    Léogâne — 18 miles from Port au Prince — is considered to be the epicenter of the January 2010 earthquake.

    Previous Carter Work Projects

    2010 – Washington, D.C.; Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
    2009 – The Mekong Region: Thailand, China, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
    2008 – The Gulf Coast, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, USA.
    2007 – Los Angeles, California, USA.
    2006 – Lonavala, India.
    2005 – Detroit and Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA.
    2004 – Mexico.
    2003 – Alabama, Georgia, USA.
    2002 – South Africa.
    2001 – Korea.
    2000 – New York, Florida, Georgia, USA.
    1999 – Philippines.
    1998 – Texas, USA.
    1997 – Tennessee, USA.
    1994-1996 – Eagle Butte, South Dakota, Southern California, USA and Vac, Hungary.
    1990-1993 – Mexico: Tijuana; USA: San Diego, California, Miami, Florida, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Maryland; Canada: Winnipeg, Manitoba and Waterloo, Ontario.
    1984-1989 – New York, Chicago, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Milwaukee, USA.

    Are you adding value?

    Those of us who work for (or have worked for) a corporation have heard about adding value. If employees are adding value, that means they are contributing to the bottom line. Since almost all corporations are  strict about performance, if you’re still employed, you can assume that you’re adding value.

    If we look at the humanitarian side of life, adding value equates to helping someone. But the fact that you’re a human and you’re still alive doesn’t mean your adding value – or helping someone. It is quite possible to go through life only helping yourself, or maybe you have helped someone in the past are you’re overdue for an act of kindness.

    There are many good ways to add value to humanity and Habitat for Humanity provides an excellent opportunity. Here at the Dacotah Tipis affiliate the need is great. We encourage you to join us!

    How Habitat for Humanity Started

    In 1968, Millard Fuller, businessman and lawyer from Alabama, and Dr. Clarence Jordan, founder of Koinonia Farms in Americus, Georgia, began work to eliminate substandard housing in Sumter County, Georgia. Determined not to act as money lender and charge interest when lending to the poor, Koinonia Farms began building and selling houses to the poor at no profit, no interest in 1968.
    In 1973, Millard and Linda Fuller carried the Koinonia Farms concept to Zaire, Africa, and launched a building program for more than 160 houses.
    When they returned to the United States in 1976, the Fullers settled in Americus, Georgia, and created Habitat for Humanity in order to expand their work.
    Habitat is still headquartered in Americus, Georgia, and has more than 1,700 affiliates across the United States and 550 internation affiliates operating in more than 90 countries around the world.

    In 1996, former U.S. President Bill Clinton awarded Fuller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, calling Habitat “…the most successful continuous community service project in the history of the United States.”

    Mr. Fuller passed away in February, 2009 at the age of 74.


    A Life Changed by God

    From humble beginnings in Alabama, Millard Fuller rose to become a young, self-made millionaire. A graduate of Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, and the University of Alabama Law School at Tuscaloosa, he and a college friend began a marketing firm while still in school. Fuller’s business expertise and entrepreneurial drive made him a millionaire at age 29. But as the business prospered, his health, integrity and marriage suffered.

    These crises prompted Fuller to re-evaluate his values and direction. His soul-searching led to reconciliation with his wife and to a renewal of his Christian commitment.

    The Fullers then took a drastic step: They decided to sell all of their possessions, give the money to the poor and begin searching for a new focus for their lives. This search led them to Koinonia Farm, a Christian community located near Americus, Georgia, where people were looking for practical ways to apply Christ’s teachings.



    Famous from Crow Creek…



    Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux tribe, was born November 17, 1930 in Fort Thompson, South Dakota, and raised on the reservation. She is Professor Emerita of English and Native American Studies at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. She comes from a family of Sioux politicians – her father and grandfather served on the Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Council for many years – and from Native scholars. Her grandmother was a bilingual writer for early Christian-oriented newspapers at Sisseton, SD, and a great-grandfather, Gabriel Renville, was a Native linguist instrumental in developing early Dacotah language dictionaries.

    Elizabeth did her undergraduate work at South Dakota State College (now South Dakota State University) in English and Journalism, graduating with a BA in English and journalism in 1952. She studied at New Mexico State University in 1966 and at Black Hills State College in 1968. She obtained her Masters of Education from the University of South Dakota in Education, Psychology and Counseling in 1971. She was in a doctoral program at the University of Nebraska in 1977-78 and was a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at Stanford University in 1976.

    Elizabeth has taught high school in New Mexico and South Dakota. She has been a Visiting Professor at the University of California at Davis. She spent most of her academic career at Eastern Washington University in Cheney from 1971 until her retirement, where she was Professor of English and Native American Studies. She became Professor Emerita in 1990. With Beatrice Medicine, Roger Buffalohead and William Willard, she was one of the founding editors of Wicazo Sa Review: A Journal of Native American Studies (Red Pencil Review). She is also a member of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, and the Authors Guild.

    Since her retirement, Elizabeth has served as a writer-in-residence at universities around the country. In the fall of 1993, she and N. Scott Momaday held a workshop at South Dakota State University for Sioux writers. From this workshop came a journal, Woyake Kinikiya: A Tribal Model Literary Journal, introduced by six of Elizabeth’s poems.

    As a child, Oscar Howe drew in the dirt with sticks because he did not have paper and pencils. He overcame many such troubles to become a great artist. Howe was a Yanktonais Nakota (Sioux). He was born on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in 1915. He started school at the Pierre Indian School. Then his troubles began. His mother died. An eye disease nearly blinded him. He got a painful skin disease. He went home to his grandmother to recover. She taught him many Nakota traditions and symbols. He used these in his paintings.

    Howe later went back to school in New Mexico. Here he began studying art. He graduated second in his class from the art program at the Santa Fe Indian School. His work was shown in cities across the United States. Howe came back to South Dakota during the Great Depression. He began working for the Artists Project of the New Deal. He painted murals in Mitchell and Mobridge.

    The Second World War (learn about this in Unit 9) ended the New Deal. Howe served as a United States soldier. He went to North Africa and Europe. When he came home, he began to work at the Mitchell Corn Palace. He created murals of corn for this building. Howe also started his college education. When he was done, he worked as art director for the Pierre schools. Later he became a teacher at the University of South Dakota. Howe’s art is known around the world. He was artist laureate of South Dakota. He died in 1983, but his art lives on.

    What can I see and do in Crow Creek?

    This is a common question, and one we enjoy answering. The simple answer is “quite a bit”. Below the picture of the Big Bend Dam we’ll give you a few specifics.

     

    Lake Sharpe – Enjoy water sports such as swimming, boating, water-skiing as well as year round fishing. Lake Sharpe is a Missouri River reservoir which was formed by for the Big Bend Dam.

    Big Bend Dam - Visitors can take guided tours of the Big Bend power plant, daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. The Dam connects the Crow Creek and the Lower Brule Indian Reservations. It is maintained by the US Corps of Army Engineers.

    Lode Star Casino - Located in the Fort Thompson section, this casino is owned and operated by the Crow Creek Tribe. Dine and the Dakota Prime Restaurant and visit the lounge, which offers entertainment nightly. The casino also operates a hotel.

    Hunting and Fishing - The Crow Creek area boasts of excellent pheasant, deer, and antelope hunting. Lake Sharpe offers some of the best walleye fishing in the nation. Hunting and fishing packages are available through the casino.

    Native American Loop Tour - This scenic drive along the Missouri River covers The Crow Creek and the Lower Brule Reservations. Highlights include the Alta Lakota Museum at Saint Josephs Indian School in Chamberlain. “Alta Lakota” means “honor the people” which the museum does through exhibits of artifacts, artwork, traditional dress and more.

    And there’s more - If you want to learn more about what to see, contact Jim at 605-245-2450 or visit the volunteer page.

    At the beginning of Dacotah Tipis

    The beginning of Dacotah Tipis cannot be discussed without discussing Sister Charles Palm.

    Sister Charles was born and raised on a farm in Richardton, North Dakota where she attended school, graduating from Yanton’s Mount Marty High School in 1953. Prior to her graduation from high school, Sister Charles had entered the Convent at Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, South Dakota to become a Roman Catholic Nun in 1952. While serving her vocational calling, Sister Charles fulfilled the requirements of Mount Marty High School to receive her diploma.

    In 1955 Sister Charles began teaching in both North Dakota and South Dakota, serving diligently where needed. During her teaching career she pursued her higher education with Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD. There she majored in education and minored in music, earning her B.A. in Education in 1967.  Sister Charles continued her teaching ministry until 1974, at which time she began her vocational career in Pastoral Ministry. She served as Pastoral Minister for Saint Catherine Parish in Sisseton, South Dakota improving the lives of the members of the Sisseton/Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, while continuing her graduate studies of ministry with Mount Marty College. Sister Charles received her Masters of the Arts in Ministry in 2001.

    In 1991, Sister Charles and a handful of other Christian community members engaged each other in an attempt to help alleviate the terrible housing crisis on Crow Creek by creating HFH Dacotah Tipis, a Habitat for Humanity affiliate that would serve within the boundaries of the Crow Creek Sioux Indian Reservation. Their wondrous efforts resulted in the affiliate being founded in 1992. As a founding board member, and serving the affiliate in many ways, Sister Charles has been directly involved with the Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity program for 19 years.

    Sister Charles currently serves as Pastoral Minister at Saint Joseph Parish in Fort Thompson, South Dakota, and serves diligently as Board Treasurer for both Habitat for Humanity Dacotah Tipis, and the Golden Age Elderly Center which provides a sit-down and delivered healthy meals program for tribal elders of the Fort Thompson, Crow Creek, and West Bend communities.

    The Reservations in Indian Country

    South Dakota is rich in many things including Native American culture. Below is a map of the reservations across the state and the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, location of Dacotah Tipis Habitat for Humanity, is at the center. For a great experience, we invite you to visit this area and to volunteer on a Habitat build.

    Listing all pages