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Pensacola Habitat For Humanity Disputes Media Report Of Financial Problems

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Joshua Morton
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Despite a report that Habitat for Humanity is “beset with financial woes,” the organization’s executive director says it’s nothing they cannot handle.

The Pensacola News Journal quotes Larry Northup, Habitat’s volunteer chairman, as saying they’re “somewhat cash-strapped.” Figures from the article show revenue falling by half in 2013, according to its latest federal tax return, while contributions fell by two-thirds to $3.6 million.

Habitat Executive Director Tim Evans paints a different picture.

“We are actually solid financially. Part of what the article didn’t do was set any context around the financial stuff,” said Evans. “A couple of years ago we had a significant opportunity to do affordable housing in this community that was supported with a HUD (U.S. Housing and Urban Development) grant that came through Habitat International.”

That program wrapped up about 18 months ago, and Evans says they’re back to local funding. Another 50 or so low-income homes are scheduled for construction this year, funded by some different grant support. He adds that the decrease in income mentioned in the article is part of what he calls the “roller coaster” of grant funding.

“You go from one grant to the next, and you try to keep things as stable and as much equilibrium as you can manage,” said Evans. “And you also try to make the good business decisions when they arise, and you try to work with what the community has available to meet your mission.”

Pensacola’s Habitat chapter has built more than 1,200

homes since forming in 1978. Evans concedes there was a large drop off in local donations, when Habitat entered the large grant program through HUD. He says that was an opportunity for them to do a significant amount of work in the community.

Habitat is placing about 20 foreclosed houses and vacant lots up for sale to a for-profit group in Alabama, which remains anonymous for now. Evans says the article’s inference that the transaction is due to financial woes is “inaccurate.”

“What we have is an opportunity to complete a transaction with properties that are no longer useful to our organization, based on age, location, or disrepair. And make it liquid, so we can use the funding to pursue our main ministry, the affordable housing.”

The organization’s board voted 18-3 to approve the sale earlier this month, foregoing the usual practice of advertising the properties and/or seeking competitive bids. Negotiations are now underway.

Along with building houses from the ground up and the renovation of existing homes, Habitat for Humanity chief Tim Evans says their other mission is to help the broader community understand the context of the information, that’s been sprinkled out over the past couple of weeks.