Everyone deserves a place to call home.
In fact, it’s one of the main things Erie Insurance strives to help protect with homeowners insurance.
Yet, reports showin more than 70% of the country,home prices are higher than the average worker can afford. If you live at or near the poverty line, that means you could be forced to choose between a stable place to live or being able to afford basic expenses like food, clothing or utilities.
Thankfully, national organizations like Habitat for Humanity help thousands of people each year by building or improving the place they call home.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that provides families the opportunity to own a home when traditional financing isn't a possibility. The organization has helped 22 million people in all 50 states since 1976.
A LONG HISTORY OF SUPPORT
At ERIE’s Home Office and in our branches, Habitat season has become an annual tradition that employees look forward to all year. Agents and employees lend their time and talent to help build, paint and restore homes in several communities where we do business. In 2008, Habitat for Humanity became an official Erie Insurance partner, but employees at various branches had been volunteering for several years prior.In 2011, ERIE made a significant year-end donation to Habitats all across our branches of $125,000. The collective donation was received by 24 Habitat for Humanity affiliates across 11 states (all of ERIE’s states at the time). In the past three years, employees raised more than $218,000 in the Erie Insurance Home Office alone.
Through the ERIE Service Corps program, which provides employees paid time off during the workday to serve local nonprofits, employees sign up for shifts to help build Habitat homes during a 2-week timeframe in the summer.
Sandy Weir, senior business support specialist in ERIE’s Pittsburgh branch, said it was very rewarding to bring ERIE employees and agents together to volunteer for a build under the direction of Habitat’s knowledgeable volunteers.
“It was amazing, the things we accomplished in only a few hours,” she said.
In Wisconsin, the ERIE branch office is in their second of a three-year partnership with Habitat for Humanity. They worked on three builds in 2018 alone as part of the Midtown 100 project.
“I think it is very important to give back to the community – not only to show ERIE’s support, but my own,” said Keith Black, a claims supervisor in ERIE’s Wisconsin branch. “I can’t always help financially as much as I would like, so being able to help with projects is a great way to give back.”
“THIS WAS A LIFE-CHANGING MOMENT FOR OUR FAMILY”
Each local Habitat’s family selection committee selects homeowners based on three criteria:
- The applicant’s level of need
- Their willingness to partner with Habitat
- Their ability to repay a mortgage through an affordable payment plan
To receive a home through Habitat, each family provides a minimum of 300 hours of sweat equity toward the build. They also attend home ownership preparation classes and monthly meetings with a budget coach. Finally, families take out a mortgage for the full cost of the house.
As for this summer’s build in Erie, Pennsylvania? That house will soon be home to the Torres family. Hilda Torres has been working onsite with ERIE volunteers who are helping her to build the house of her dreams.
“When I found out our family was selected, it brought me to tears,” Torres said. “This was a life-changing moment for our family.”
Hilda and her three children will be settled in this November.
“The [ERIE] volunteers were fun, caring, supportive and extremely hardworking,” she said. “I truly felt my home was being built with love.”
“It is so evident that the company cares about our community by encouraging and making it possible for ERIE employees to be involved in a ‘hands-on’ capacity,” says Nancy Milkowski, executive director of the Greater Erie Area Habitat for Humanity. “We are so grateful for the partnership with Erie Insurance.
Habitat is one of many ways ERIE employees and agents give back. Whether it’s a blood drive for local blood banks, a food drive for local neighborhoods, our employees’ dedication to the community is visible and impactful. Check out all the ways Erie Insurance helps in the community on our Giving Network Page, or by following #ERIEforgood on social media.