Habitat for Humanity

        When we think of master planned communities, we think of upscale, in many cases gated, housing communities occupied by upper and upper middle class families. As more and more of these communities are being built around the country, the opposition to master planned communities and their home owners associations (HOAs) is also increasing at the same time. Many feel that master planned communities, especially gated ones, amount not only to physical, structural segregation but segregation by income and race as well.

       In his article, "When Extreme Political Ideas Move into the Mainstream", geographer Andrew Kirby points out an anti-master planned community/HOA organization that compares master planned communities and HOA to Nazism, Fascism, and Communism saying that: “master planned communities and everyone and everything that supports them is the greatest threat this nation has faced since its birth” (Kirby, 217). I wouldn't go as far as to call HOAs and master planned communities Fascist. However, the members of this anti-HOA organization do make a good point in regards to segregation of classes and what our cities are going to look like in the future.

       Phoenix is one of the largest cities in the country and growing. The number of communities for wealthier Americans, surrounded by tall walls and gates is increasing, and at the same time there is a lack of affordable housing in metropolitan Phoenix.

We now turn our attention to a different type of master planned communities, ones built by the Habitat for Humanity. Two of the only master planned HfH communities, South Ranch and Villas Esperanzas (Village of Hope) are located in heart of South Phoenix. What makes Habitat for Humanity so unique and different is the main purpose of this non-profit organization, and that is to eliminate poverty housing and build affordable homes for hard working low-income families. What distinguishes HfH communities from other master planned communities is that they are inclusive rather than exclusive. What I mean by this is that the homes are affordable so some families are not excluded because of their lower income. Since its formation in 1967, HfH, has built more than 175,000 houses worldwide, housing more than 750,000 people.

        I am glad that I took the opportunity to participate as a  volunteer in building an affordable house in Villas Esperanzas community. Along with two classmates, I was hammering in the trusties spacers. At the end of the day I felt great that I was involved in a Habitat home construction. Habitat for Humanity is mostly based on sponsorship and volunteer work. Volunteer opportunities are available in number of fields including construction, fundraising, family and office services. HfH also accepts monetary as well as land donations. It is unfortunate that there aren’t more of similar kind of organizations.