Campus: CSU Long Beach -- December 1, 2003

Cal State Long Beach Starts Habitat for Humanity Chapter

California State University, Long Beach welcomes to campus a student chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization that seeks to provide affordable housing for people in need.

Led by Larry Brown, a graduate student in public policy and administration, and faculty advisor Edward Martin of CSULB's Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration, the new chapter is part of Habitat for Humanity International and works closely with Habitat for Humanity South Bay/Long Beach, covering communities from Artesia to Wilmington.

"Establishing a chapter of Habitat for Humanity at CSULB tells the community that this university is more than academics," said Brown, who came to campus from San Diego State where he earned his bachelor's degree in social work in 2002. "This is a culture and community that cares about more than itself. It believes in making a difference in Long Beach. And ultimately, what we do here affects the world."

Brown encouraged the university community to participate in the chapter as it prepares for its second "hammering" scheduled for Dec. 20. The South Bay/Long Beach program completed its 52nd house in December 2002 and hopes to build another 60 homes by 2005 as part of the More Than Houses campaign. The group is planning to build six houses on Orcutt Avenue in Long Beach and a 16-house neighborhood in Harbor Gateway.

Martin explained that participating in Habitat for Humanity is a way of bringing together theory and practice. "It opens the world and broadens horizons," he said. "It helps us understand the incredible complexities playing out in our society. And it involves many different interests. Everybody's coming out, from Young Republicans to kids with pierced tongues."

Habitat for Humanity selects homeowners based on three criteria: need for adequate shelter, the ability to pay back a zero-interest loan (a family of four must earn between $15,000 and $25,000) and a willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity South Bay/Long Beach.

"We provide 'sweat equity,'" said Martin. Families invest 250 hours of "sweat equity" per adult to help build their home. "This gives the participating families a sense of ownership. Every-body is enthusiastic about what we're doing here. We saw a need to get students interested and get the campus moving on a worthwhile project."

There are many opportunities for participation, Brown explained. "Volunteers can wield hammers or assume leadership roles or help organize," he said. "All sorts of people are interested in helping. It's better to do something than nothing. Even if you're not sure how to use a nail gun, Habitat will help you make a contribution."

Habitat houses are financed with no-interest mortgages and sold at no profit to partner families. House payments go into a revolving Fund for Humanity, which is used to build more Habitat homes. Family selection is never based on race, religion, age or gender of the applicants. House costs are kept low through donations from individuals, corporations, churches, foundations and volunteer labor. More than 3,000 volunteers work with Habitat for Humanity South Bay/Long Beach annually.

The goal of the project is simple, said Brown. "Give some of your time and help make things better," he said. Those interested in participating may e-mail Brown at Lbrown6@csulb.edu.

Media Contacts: Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454, rgloady@csulb.edu
Shayne Schroeder, 562/985-1727, schroede@csulb.edu


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