Habitat Costa Rica 2001 Newsletter

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE – GOALS FOR 2002

1.        To have 8 established affiliates operational, which would include the existing affiliates in San Ramón, Nicoya, Esparza, Cartago, and Monteverde, plus three new affiliates in Rio Claro, Buenos Aires, and Alajuela.

2.        To have in place an Internet based system that matches individual volunteers with service opportunities in construction, training, computers, fundraising, or church relations based on their skills and interests.

3.        To create one to two updated home designs in each affiliate to ensure more adaptations to specific cultural and regional differences are made while finding new ways to reduce construction costs.

4.        To implement a bank based system to simplify the mortgage payment collection process so that Habitat families could make their payments anywhere in the country through government or private bank branches

5.        To develop strategic alliances with local and national governments so that families who would not otherwise qualify for a Habitat home could find grants to help them purchase their own lots

PROJECT ESPARZOL

Habitat Costa Rica has entered talks with the national government to consider building 12 houses in Esparzol, a low-income subdivision in Esparza. Twelve families who qualify for Habitat houses may soon receive federal grants for  $6,300. Around $5,000 will be used to purchase lots while $1,300 will be used as down payments on Habitat houses. Piggy-backing off a government grant program in Esparzol would allow Habitat families to pay off their loans quicker and would give the Esparza building fund a shot in the arm.  Project Esparzol is an example of how Habitat is forming  partnerships with the Costa Rican government to help families obtain grants to buy their own lots.

HOW DOES “SWEAT EQUITY” WORK?

The term sweat equity refers to several hundred hours of labor each Habitat family invests in constructing their own homes and building homes with their neighbors.  Habitat for Humanity is not an “easy money” organization that just gives away homes.  Beneficiaries understand that receipt of a no-profit, zero-interest mortgage is contingent upon their active participation in building their own homes.  “Sweat equity” is the cornerstone of every Habitat affiliate.  It allows the beneficiaries and their families to build with their own two hands a true sense of ownership in their homes in addition to learning basic building and maintenance skills.   Some homeowners transfer skills learned at the work site to careers in construction to better provide for their families.  Furthermore, “sweat equity” creates a greater sense of self-worth in homeowners and a stronger sense of kinship among local families who build each other’s homes together.  In Latin America, homeowners often work together in groups of four to six families rotating from house to house until all of the homes are completed.  Family collectives like these significantly reduce labor costs required to construct a Habitat for Humanity house.  Habitat Costa Rica uses family work teams nationwide.

Cartago--San Ramon--Esparza--Nicoya--Monteverde

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