A quarter of a century ago, Jeff Rutt, founder and CEO of Keystone Custom Homes, in Lancaster, Pa., formed HOPE International and Homes for HOPE to serve the people of Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.
Designed to help low- and moderate-income individuals who lack full access to mainstream financial services grow their small businesses (called microenterprise development) and thus combat global generational poverty, the two nonprofit enterprises have since expanded to more than 20 countries and disbursed more than $1.4 billion in loans for entrepreneurs living in poverty around the world.
That outreach includes 47 brave and resilient colleagues and more than 500 families in the Ukraine, which has been under attack by and bravely fighting against Russian armed forces since February.
HOPE isn’t the only building industry–supported nonprofit with a history of serving the people of Ukraine. Habitat for Humanity has been addressing shelter needs in Central and Eastern Europe since 1992 and provided HOPE Ukraine with seed funding to launch a housing-related microfinance product more than a decade ago.
Due to the hard work and faithful repayments of the people HOPE serves, which enabled the nonprofit to recycle repayments into additional lending opportunities, housing-related loans now account for 30% of HOPE Ukraine’s portfolio, and the strategy continues to grow.
How HOPE Ukraine and Habitat for Humanity Are Responding to the War in Ukraine
Helping Within Ukraine
As the war in Ukraine enters its sixth month, HOPE has temporarily paused regular operations there but remains committed to supporting its staff and the entrepreneurs and families it serves. At the request of its donors, it created the HOPE Ukraine Assistance Fund.
The majority of donations to the fund will go toward providing long-term support and recapitalization of loans as the country rebuilds, businesses reopen, and a nation heals from the trauma of war, but the money also will:
- Provide immediate support for HOPE Ukraine staff relocating their families away from violence.
- Provide support to local and regional partners to assist Ukrainian refugees—both those who are internally displaced in Ukraine and those who are arriving in Moldova, Romania, and Poland—on a limited scale. As of the beginning of July, HOPE has provided grants to a network of 32 local churches and organizations in Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, and Poland through connections built over 25 years of ministry in Ukraine. These funds have helped hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people with food, water, shelter, transportation, and other assistance.
- Provide grace periods and repayment flexibility on all outstanding loans for the entrepreneurs and farmers served by HOPE Ukraine.
- Position HOPE Ukraine well to help HOPE Ukraine staff, business owners, and farmers recover from damage to property, lost income, or other capital needs once the violence ends.
- Home Builders Are Feeling the Supply Chain Aftershock of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
- The War in Ukraine Is Widening a Supply Chain Crisis for Home Builders
- Mortgage Rates Plunge Following Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Helping Ukraine's Neighbors Provide Support
As millions of refugees flee violence in Ukraine, Habitat for Humanity continues to respond in neighboring Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia to help meet the shelter needs of both families on the move to other destinations and those seeking a place to live for at least the next few months.
- In Romania, Habitat for Humanity has secured hotel accommodations for more than 1,000 refugees and is distributing 3,000 emergency travel kits.
- Habitat for Humanity Poland is operating a housing help kiosk at one of Warsaw’s main transit stations through a partnership with the city, matching refugees with midterm accommodations listed in a city database of 4,000 households willing to host families, as well as apartments and homes secured through other means.
- Habitat Poland’s ReStore in Warsaw furnishes units where Habitat is placing refugees while also acting as a source of furniture, bedding, and household supplies for host families who have opened their homes to refugees.
- Habitat Hungary is facilitating transitional accommodations of refugees in and around Budapest, helping mediate between landlords and refugees, including legal agreements for use of the apartment, as well as translation services and transportation. Habitat expects to manage 100 rental units in the city that can accommodate families for six months or more.
The building industry has been actively and effectively serving the people of Ukraine for decades. And as the country recovers from this horrific war, we’ll be there, sustainably serving for decades to come.
To learn more, get involved, and donate to Habitat's efforts, visit the Habitat for Humanity Disaster Relief Fund.
Matthew Baehr is the executive director of Homes for HOPE, where he brings a wealth of experience in disaster relief, humanitarian aid, and procurement. Contact him at 717.719.0313 or email@example.com.
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