Tomorrow, a house frame will be built in the middle of campus in just a matter of hours. Third Street will be turned into a temporary construction site as Baylor’s Habitat for Humanity seeks to raise awareness for poverty and affordable housing in Waco.
“We kind of want to bridge the gap between the Baylor bubble and the Waco community and get students involved in something that’s bigger than them,” said Allison Carrington, president of Baylor’s Habitat chapter.
Throughout the semester, Habitat has been raising money for this house build through fundraising events and by asking other organizations to sponsor a stud.
The actual house frame built from these studs will not stay on campus long. About a week after Christmas on Fifth, the house will be deconstructed and taken to the plot where it will be rebuilt and developed for a family in Waco.
“We get to frame a house twice, but we think it’s well worth it,” said Brenda Shuttlesworth, executive director with Waco Habitat.
She said its main purpose on campus will be to heighten awareness for Baylor students, alumni and the surrounding community who will be on campus for the Christmas festivities.
“I was a Baylor student many years ago and I didn’t realize how poor Waco was,” Shuttlesworth said.
The median household income in Waco is $32,705 and Waco’s poverty rate is 29.4 percent, according to data from the National Resource Network. Texas’ poverty rate is almost half that, at 17.2 percent, according to Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity’s website.
“I think that it is something that we should be concerned about,” Carrington said. “By giving someone a home, we’re not just trying to eliminate poverty, we’re trying to build them up.”
Shuttlesworth said they serve low income families in their construction program, but that it is not a handout program.
“They’re going to help build other peoples homes and their home and eventually they’re going to purchase that home,” Shuttlesworth said.
To qualify for the program, Habitat checks to make sure that the family has lived in McLennan County for at least a year, that they are between 30 and 60 percent of the area’s median family income, that they are willing to partner and work for their home and that they have a good work history. When a family is chosen, they go through what Carrington calls “homeowner college” where they will learn how to take care of a house properly and how to manage savings and even loans. They also have to spend 300 hours building their home or other Habitat homes.
“When you commit so much of your time in your home, you’re going to be really invested in your home and doing right by your family,” Carrington said.
Shuttlesworth said Habitat has a very personal mission and they are thankful for the opportunities they get to help families recognize the path out of poverty.
Both the Waco and Baylor chapters have been planning this house build since last school year, when Carrington came up with the idea.
“We feel honored to have been asked to come alongside the Baylor campus chapter,” Shuttlesworth said.
Carrington said they are hoping more students will come alongside them and help build the frame. They will be building from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in four shifts and will be providing volunteers with t-shirts. Students interested in volunteering should contact Lauren_Guida@baylor.edu.
Non-Habitat members are also welcome at the club’s meeting tonight at 6:00 p.m., in Baylor Science Building E201, where they are hoping to hear from the family that will receive the home from the campus build.
“We’re trying to get as many people out there as possible and get the student body concerned,” Carrington said. “We are changing a family’s life forever.”