Habitat For Humanity Merger Means More Housing For Low-Income Families In Greater Los Angeles

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Habitat for Humanity's two largest area affiliates join forces and streamline operations to increase efficiency and build more homes for low-income families in Greater Los Angeles.

Habitat for Humanity’s two largest Los Angeles area affiliates—Los Angeles and South Bay/Long Beach—have joined forces to become one organization: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (http://www.habitatla.org.) The two affiliates have combined their resources, board and staff to serve 112 cities and unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County including 70 communities within the City of Los Angeles. By streamlining operations, HFH GLA will be able to increase the number of new homes and homeownership opportunities for low-income families in a real estate market that is making affordable housing increasingly challenging.

The two affiliates began exploring the possibility of joining forces in January 2005 spearheaded by Jeff Seabold (LA Board President,) Jack Baringer (South Bay/Long Beach Board Chairman) and Erin Rank (South Bay/Long Beach President/CEO.) The merger was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors for both affiliates, and became effective July 15, 2005. Jack Baringer is Chairman of the Board of Directors and Erin Rank is President/CEO of the new affiliate. Jeff Seabold continues to be an active supporter of the organization. As part of the effort to consolidate resources, downtown staffers moved to the South Bay offices located in Gardena, CA adjacent to its warehouse and Habitat for Humanity Home Improvement Store (http://www.shophabitat.org.) No jobs have been eliminated as a result of the merger.

“Mergers involve change and the most challenging phase is integration,“ says Erin Rank, President/CEO, who has served as the CEO of the South Bay/Long Beach affiliate for eight years. “The key to our success is our willingness to move beyond where we were yesterday and move forward together to create a new organization. We have a tremendous team that is excited, innovative and determined to succeed in Greater Los Angeles.”

Many of the HFH affiliates operating in the U.S. and Canada began as grass roots organizations and several urban affiliates have grown to a size where they may be competing with neighboring affiliates for land and resources. The Greater Los Angeles merger is being viewed as a model for other urban affiliates to follow.

Jack Baringer, President of Board of Directors, adds, “The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. We will partner with more communities, build more homes, and ultimately house more families.”

HFH partner families earn 25 to 50 percent of area median income. For Los Angeles County, that translates to as little as $17,850 / year for a family of four. Partner families must also meet the following requirements: demonstrated need for adequate shelter; ability to pay back a zero-interest loan; and willingness to partner with HFH GLA to invest 500 ‘sweat’ equity hours into building their home or another Habitat home. The median price for a single-family home in Los Angeles County in August 2005 was $520,000. Through the use of a primarily volunteer work force, it costs approximately $160,000 to construct a Habitat home.

About Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles:

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles is a non-profit, ecumenical housing ministry that seeks to eliminate poverty housing by providing simple, decent and affordable homes for low-income families through volunteer labor and charitable donations. HFH GLA has built a total of 169 homes and plans to complete an additional 26 homes by June 2006. http://www.habitatla.org

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Angela Garcia
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