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Habitat for Humanity Builds More Than Homes

The state chapter of Habitat for Humanity contributed $24 million to Iowa’s economy and accounted for hundreds of jobs, according to a study by the University of Iowa’s Public Policy Center of the charitable home building organization’s statewide impact.

Habitat for Humanity of Iowa approached the center’s Housing and Land Use Policy Program to conduct the study. The report covers the organization's activities in 2011.

The study shows that 34 Habitat affiliates had more than 100 employees and paid $13 million in direct wages, building materials, construction labor, and other operating costs. Habitat spending resulted in a monetary output of $23.7 million with earnings of $9.7 million and the creation of 227 jobs.

“Habitat housing is an excellent example of collaboration between local community partners and low-income working families that need decent, reasonably priced homes,” says Jerry Anthony, director of the Housing and Land Use Policy Program.

The researchers used regional input-output analysis to estimate the total impacts to Iowa’s economy that resulted from money directly spent and wages directly paid by Habitat for Humanity.

“Habitat houses pay property taxes and therefore add to local government tax revenues,” Anthony says. The homes built by Habitat helped to increase potential property tax revenue by $175,147, he adds.

Compared to other state’s Habitat for Humanity studies, the economic impacts presented in the report are a conservative estimate of Habitat’s impacts because no single analysis can capture the benefits of all of the services that Habitat provides, the authors note.

Lisa Houser, Habitat for Humanity of Iowa’s executive director, praised the report for documenting the full scope of her organization’s activities and impact.

"This study gives us quantitative results that we can stand behind and attest to others about the benefits of partnering with Habitat for Humanity to serve more families through affordable homeownership," she says.

“The University of Iowa’s Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter, Homecoming Council, Medical Student Habitat for Humanity Group, Environmental Coalition, College of Public Health, and many fraternities, sororities, and athletic teams have provided funds, volunteer labor, and advocacy for our organization throughout the years,” says Theresa Burns of Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity, which organizes and oversees the Iowa City builds.

The UI has assisted for years on multiple Habitat projects in the Iowa City area. Currently, the UI’s Department of Ophthalmology is gearing up for its first home building with Habitat for Humanity build in June. The department hopes to complete the house by early fall, just in time for the family to move in before colder weather sets in.

The study was conducted by Anthony and Sally Scott of the Public Policy Center, and Andrea Uhl, graduate teaching assistant in the School of Urban & Regional Planning.


The Tippie College of Business completed its first Habitat for Humanity home (Tippie Build) during the 2006-2007 academic year. It was the largest community service project in history of the College of Business and the start of a tradition. To date, Tippie students have raised more than $300,000 for Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity and provided most of the volunteer labor to build six Habitat homes. View photos from Tippie Build 6.

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