On January 19, Barbara Dunn reflected on her 26 years as CE0 of Paterson Habitat For Humanity. Barbara recently retired from that role and during her tenure had a real impact on the lives of hundreds of Paterson residents.
Founded in 1984, Paterson Habitat has helped more than 300 families obtain housing. Barbara called herself a “child of the ‘60s”, a period when optimism ruled and she was motivated to try to help change the world for the better. She spent many years at Planned Parenthood first and then became Executive Director of Paterson Habitat in 1993.
Habitat For Humanity itself was founded explicitly on the basis of Christian principals by Millard and Linda Fuller who had developed the concept of “partnership housing” with their friend, Clarence Jordan, a farmer and biblical scholar. The concept referred to the idea that needy families would work alongside volunteers to build adequate housing.
Currently, Paterson Habitat spends about $250,000 on each home but sells it to families for only about $150,000 – and they sell it to the families by giving them a 0% mortgage, financed by Habitat! During the housing crisis, homes in Paterson were not immune to the national troubles and for the first time Habitat had about 40 families who were underwater on their mortgages. Instead of pulling out, Paterson Habitat made the moral decision to “double down” and wrote off over 2 million dollars of their portfolio. Every family got a roughly $50,000 reduction in their mortgage.
Paterson Habitat is one of some 19 New Jersey branches of Habitat. You can read about all the NJ Habitats here