Filing your state tax return? Help a family build a house, too

February 2, 2011

From press release

OSWEGO, Ill.—Starting this year, Habitat for Humanity of Illinois appears on the Schedule G state income tax form for voluntary charitable contributions, turning tax time into an unlikely fund-raising opportunity for the nonprofit home-builder.

The result? The annual chore of taxes becomes a meaningful act of conscience.

Habitat for Humanity of Illinois Executive Director Bobbi Burgstone said: “These donations will make a real difference in the lives of Illinois families. This is an easy way for the people of Illinois to help lift families out of deplorable living conditions. Last year, we worked hard for the passage of legislation to be added to Schedule G, and we’re very optimistic that citizens will respond very favorably to this.”

Also called a tax check-off, Schedule G allows Illinois taxpayers to easily donate money to Habitat for Humanity of Illinois. The taxpayer simply attaches the schedule to their IL-1040 income tax form, or asks the tax preparer to do so. Taxpayers may state any amount $1 or greater (no maximum) on their Schedule G form to be deducted from their refund or to be added to their tax due. Even $1 gifts quickly add up to make an immediate impact.

“Oh, the power of $1,” Burgstone said. “There are more than 5 million Illinois tax returns filed. If $1 were donated on every tax return, that would yield $5,000,000. That’s right—$5 million! Don’t think that your $1 won’t mean anything. What can $1 do? It can do what $5M can do. A sum like that can supply funding to provide affordable housing for as many as 140 well-deserving Illinois families in need of a home to call their own.”

The need for affordable housing has never been greater.

“As housing remains unaffordable, many families are using more than half of their monthly income on inadequate housing,” Burgstone said. “Imagine struggling to make rent payments—and on what? Poverty housing with leaky roofs, lead paint, rats, gang violence and other unsafe conditions. This nightmare scenario is all too real for many thousands of Illinois families. Each month, these families get further behind, and their dreams of providing a safe, nurturing home for their children slip further away.”

A nonprofit housing organization, Habitat for Humanity of Illinois builds and repairs houses in partnership with hardworking, limited-income families who are in desperate need of safe, decent, affordable housing.

“Poverty housing persists in every county in Illinois. Our 51 Habitat affiliates collectively build nearly 100 houses each year,” Burgstone said.

Contrary to a common misconception, Habitat for Humanity is not a giveaway program. Partner families must currently be living in substandard housing, willing to put in 300 hours of “sweat equity” to construct the home alongside volunteers, and be able to repay a zero-interest loan to purchase the home. Homeowners’ incomes range from $20,000 to $42,000. No more than 25 percent of their income goes toward the mortgage. Foreclosure rate is less than 2 percent.

The houses themselves are simple structures, typically 1,500 square feet, designed to blend into mixed income communities. Habitat partner families are looking for a hand up, not a hand out.

In addition to positively impacting families, these donations will benefit all citizens in Habitat communities by adding to the local real estate taxes rolls, freshening up neighborhoods, increasing state taxes through the purchase of building materials and then furnishings, reducing the burden on welfare programs, and seeing the emergence of more productive, engaged citizens.

With the money generated from IL Schedule G, Habitat for Humanity of Illinois will be able to increase its ability to serve additional Illinois families in need. The funds will be used to rehab and construct additional homes, purchase land, and develop infrastructure, e.g., roads and sewers, to move even more families out of poverty shelter.

This is not money pulled from the state budget. Instead, the kindness of taxpayers will add support to Habitat’s efforts, designating their donations of any size.

A few minutes and few dollars donated by an Illinois taxpayer can change everything for a family in need. Homeownership is meaningful in providing families the hope and stability they need to succeed.

Illinois Schedule G makes it easy for an Illinois taxpayer to contribute simply by filling out the quick form and submitting it with their state tax return IL-1040. Schedule G can be downloaded at habitatillinois.org or picked up at a local library or from any professional tax preparer. For more information about affordable housing, this tax check-off, or Habitat for Humanity of Illinois, call (630) 551-0160 or visit habitatillinois.org.

Habitat for Humanity of Illinois

Habitat for Humanity of Illinois is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicated to eradicating poverty housing and developing communities by building and repairing houses with people in need. The charity was founded in 1999 as the Illinois State Support Organization of Habitat for Humanity International, which is now the nation’s eighth-largest home-builder. Habitat for Humanity of Illinois works in partnership with the 51 Habitat affiliates throughout the state, securing financial and building material resources, advocating for affordable housing, providing training for affiliate leaders, and managing the network of Habitat home improvement stores. Call 630-551-0160 or visit habitatillinois.org.

Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity

Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical, Christian housing organization that builds simple, decent and affordable homes with low-income families through partnerships with the community. Homes are sold to first-time homebuyers with a zero-percent interest, 20- to 30-year mortgage. Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity has been serving Winnebago County since 1988 and has built 89 homes in partnership with families in need. For more information, visit rockfordhabitat.org.

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