Habitat’s commitment: Be actively anti-racist and affirm that Black Lives Matter

A message from Jonathan Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat for Humanity is more than a nonprofit housing ministry. We have a vision of a world where we share one humanity, and that’s a world that we believe in and fight for every day. We are a faith-based organization, but we realize that faith alone is not enough. Our faith must be coupled with works and action.

As we share in the sadness, anger and uncertainty that have rocked communities across the United States since the killing of George Floyd — protests of the systemic and racial injustice that have infused and informed the life of our nation — we recognize that we must do more. I must do more.

In recent days, I have fallen to my knees in frequent prayer and reflection, seeking God’s guidance. Guidance to be a better listener. Guidance to be a better leader. Guidance to truly understand that my path as a white man has not been the path of so many of my fellow citizens and that my own experiences cannot be the measure of their journeys; that we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And, finally, guidance to own where Habitat must go from here.

I know that I must change. I know that Habitat must change. And we must commit to tangible action.

We must commit to doing the work in our practices, our programs and our networks that brings equity to our efforts and helps bring justice to the communities in which we work. We must, throughout our ministry, do a better job of connecting issues of racial and social injustice with historic barriers to affordable housing and working to eradicate those barriers.

Historic discrimination in U.S. housing policy — particularly discrimination against Black Americans — is one of the chief drivers of racial inequities that persist today. Organizations like Habitat that work on housing must understand that history, and it must inform our work moving forward.

We want each of you, and all of our friends and supporters, to know the decisions we will make in how to proceed. Our answers cannot always be immediate, but I promise you that we will communicate with transparency.

Steps we are undertaking now:

  • We have created a Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, a new position that will be posted on habitat.org/careers. This new role will serve as a member of our senior leadership team and will report to our chief operating officer.
  • We recommit ourselves to taking bold actions to ensure racial equity through our collective advocacy efforts, specifically the Cost of Home campaign. The Cost of Home Policy Platform states, “Advocates and policymakers must acknowledge and address the well-documented patterns of racial discrimination in housing and land use policies — at all levels of government — that still impact the makeup and opportunities of our communities.” We will work to effectively address and respond to these urgent needs.
  • Our recently launched +You thought leadership series will seek to inform and educate our audiences on significant and pressing issues in housing today — health, the impacts of COVID-19 on low-income families and particularly in communities of color, the role of redlining and racial inequality in housing disparities, and more.
  • On Friday, June 19, Habitat for Humanity International will mark Juneteenth — the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States — with a Day of Reflection, Action and Solidarity. Our staff members are encouraged to use this day in a way that is most meaningful to them. Going forward, we will observe Juneteenth annually.

Every day and from now on, I and the leaders of our ministry commit to creating an environment where humility, open communication, dialogue and listening become our standard. In addition to being a space where people of all races, all faiths and all backgrounds can come together in common cause, we commit to being actively anti-racist and to affirming, through word and action, that Black Lives Matter and that our communities and systems must further this fundamental truth. We will ensure that our work is infused with courage and accountability so that we make our strong commitment to equity and true community a reality.

I promise to hold myself accountable for leading this organization to a better embodiment of these principles, and I seek your prayers, patience, support and help.

As we take up this work, we are reflecting on the list below, endorsed by the leaders of our Black Employee Success Team employee resource group. We offer it to you for your consideration as well.

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Energy Capital joins international Homes, Communities, Hope + You campaign to help Campbell County build back from COVID-19

As the world continues to grapple with the public health crisis and the economic impact of COVID-19, the importance of a place to call home has never been more pronounced.

 

Since 1997, Energy Capital Habitat for Humanity (ECHFH) has supported families in Campbell County through many adversities. Now, in these very challenging times, ECHFH stands ready once again to offer a hand up to families in need of safe, decent and affordable homes. Through the Homes, Communities, Hope + You campaign, the organization will raise funds to support more families who need access to the opportunities that an affordable home provides.

 

“Everyone deserves a safe place to call home, and never has that been more evident than what we just experienced throughout the country,” says ECHFH Executive Director, Brenda Kirk. “There is a need in Campbell County for affordable housing, now more than ever.”

 

Funds raised through the Homes, Communities, Hope + You campaign will be used for the next major Habitat home build in Gillette.

 

This is a unique opportunity for Habitat organizations all around the world to unite as a global network to galvanize communities and emerge from this crisis stronger together. The campaign will feature Habitat doing what it does best: building security and stability, building back the economy, reconnecting communities, and creating hope.

 

“Habitat for Humanity is needed now more than ever,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “The world was already experiencing a housing crisis long before COVID-19. The pandemic has only made our work more urgent. Our neighbors need our help to build back, and we need your support as we work toward a world where everyone has a safe, decent and affordable place to live.”

 

More details about Habitat’s Homes, Communities, Hope + You campaign is available at gillettehabitat.org.

 

About Energy Capital Habitat for Humanity

 

Energy Capital Habitat for Humanity (ECHFH) brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. As a Gold GuideStar charity, ECHFH has partnered with volunteers, donors and Habitat homeowners to build, renovate and repair homes locally and worldwide since 1997. The lives of thousands of individuals have been transformed as a result of having a decent and affordable place to call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes and pay an affordable mortgage. By supporting ECHFH through volunteerism, donations, and supporting affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the stability and self-reliance they need to build a better future. To learn more, visit www.gillettehabitat.org.

Coronavirus pandemic calls for a world where we care for each other.

A message from Jonathan Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International

In recent days and weeks, a wave of closures, cancellations and postponements has unfurled as the COVID-19 pandemic has emerged. Those decisions — taken individually, totaled in the aggregate — have been stunning acts of solidarity, expressions of concern and collective responsibility for the health and well-being of our communities and our neighbors.

That sense of connectedness and a willingness to actively help shape the world around us for the better have always been a hallmark of Habitat and supporters like you. They are deep in our DNA. They are what have sustained our work with families for more than 40 years, they are what will ensure we weather this unprecedented challenge, and they are what will be needed — more than ever — when we all emerge from this current crisis.

We have always believed that we will only find our way forward together. It’s true every day — and will be even truer now. The need we work so hard every day to meet will only grow.

When any disaster hits — a storm, a disease, a financial crisis — it is always those who struggle most who suddenly find themselves struggling even more. They are our neighbors. Families already living in conditions that aren’t conducive to good health, those whose finances have long been taxed beyond measure because housing eats up too large a portion of their income, those newly vulnerable because of the economic shock waves that something like this so often sets off.

As this disease has spread, we have implemented many changes ourselves, and we continue to monitor and wrestle with the uncharted territory we all find ourselves in now. Our utmost priority at all times is protecting the people and communities we serve, and that has meant pausing some activities. When the time is right, Habitat for Humanity stands ready to once again accelerate our efforts with renewed energy and commitment. We are so desperately needed. Because this should be a world where everyone has a decent place to live. It should be a world where we care for each other, where we recognize that we are all connected, and where we come together in times of crisis — and stay together when the urgency has lifted but the need remains.

As much as we wish there might be a playbook for the situation we all find ourselves in, it has not been written yet. What has been written is the command to love our neighbors and to act with kindness wherever we can. We thank you for the close and loving global community that you continue to help us build, and we appreciate your unwavering support.