Habitat for Humanity struggles with high construction costs


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Reeling from massive reductions in volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic and grappling with high construction costs, Habitat for Humanity leaders would be the first to admit they are struggling.

The past year has been like one punch after another, they say. First blow: Local Habitat affiliates have had to limit volunteers due to virus problems, forcing them to shell out more money to hire contractors. Second blow: revenues were affected by the temporary closures of ReStores, the reuse stores operated by local Habitat organizations. The third: construction delays caused by pandemic issues in the supply chain, causing affiliates to wait longer for supplies.

What could have been the coup de grace was soaring construction costs. Wood prices, according to the National Association of Home Builders, have increased by more than 300% since April 2020. The demand for new housing, along with the demand for supplies for renovation projects and other factors, has also held steady. costs at a high level, according to experts. Prices have fallen in recent weeks, but they are still significantly higher than before the pandemic.

Morgan Pfaff, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Wisconsin River region, which operates in rural Baraboo, Wisconsin, said the group had had to cancel the second house it was going to build this year because he just couldn’t afford it. The house they are building costs more because it does not have enough volunteers. “It will be, at least, an additional $ 13,000 in contract labor that we hadn’t budgeted for,” Pfaff said. “Then you add the cost of the materials, and it’s really upside down. “

Faced with challenges from all sides, Habitat’s locally-managed independent affiliate network is trying to keep up with rising costs by taking out loans, increasing fundraising, and using alternative building materials, between other. Some subsidiaries are using materials that local stores helped them stock before the price increases took effect. Now, amid the surges, officials say donors are also stepping up their efforts.

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