MTSU Study: Habitat for Humanity creates $107M in economic activity statewide

Apr 09, 2019 at 07:00 am by Voice Wire

Habitat for Humanity

In addition to making homeownership dreams come true for thousands of families across the state over the years, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee generated more than $107 million in economic activity last year and the equivalent of 1,200 jobs. 

That's according to a new study by the Business and Economic Research Center in the Jones College of Business at MTSU in partnership with the nonprofit. BERC compiled and analyzed detailed information about Habitat-related expenditures in Tennessee for each of the four districts in which Habitat affiliates operate.

The organization and its 45 affiliates have built more than 4,600 homes since being established in the state in 1978, the study shows, and has averaged building 145 homes and repairing 265 annually for the past four years.

The organization serves families earning 60 percent or less of their area's median income and, among other things, requires families to complete homebuyer/homeowner education classes and contribute "sweat equity" hours in helping to build the home. Tennessee ranks first nationally in new Habitat homes built per capita.

"Habitat for Humanity's vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live, and our local affiliates have worked for 41 years to make that reality for thousands of Tennesseans," said Colleen Dudley, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee.

"But that positive impact goes beyond the families we serve. Habitat creates property taxpayers; we create jobs; and we're a leader in our industry. Our work affects entire communities and extends across the state, and we were happy to partner with BERC to quantify our impact and tell that story."

In conjunction with a Tennessee Housing Development Agency program, Habitat has also helped to ensure that 114 elderly or special needs individuals have a place to call home.

Community support remains a significant part of Habitat's success, with almost 28,000 volunteers contributing to Habitat operations in 2017, equivalent to 164 full-time employees, the study shows.

MTSU is among partners that have served as a site for Habitat "panel builds" that preps walls for construction.

Habitat also operates 33 ReStores across the state that encourage citizens to donate furniture, appliances and building materials to be sold, "accounting for $16 million in total business revenue and 226 jobs" in 2018, the study notes.

"ReStore within each district of Habitat for Humanity has had an enormous influence on Tennessee," notes study author Murat Arik, director of MTSU's Business and Economic Research Center. "ReStore operations are a vital aspect of Habitat for Humanity's financial well-being. The same can be said of ReStore operations' relevance to the state economy."

To view the full 40-page study, go to BERC's webpage and click on the appropriate link.

About Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. In Tennessee, Habitat partners with families and individuals in 65 counties to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit


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