Real Estate

Coronavirus hits Habitat for Humanity hard as nonprofit set to lay off 10% of its staff

Senior leadership also taking pay cuts

The impact of the coronavirus has already caused numerous real estate companies, including Compass, Opendoor and eXp Realty, to lay off employees, and it turns out that even one of the biggest housing nonprofits is not immune from having to make hard decisions these days.

Habitat for Humanity International, the umbrella organization for the local and national Habitat programs that operate in all 50 states and in more than 70 countries, announced Friday that it is laying off 10% of its employees.

The nonprofit said that the layoffs are part of an effort to “cut expenses in reaction to short- and long-term financial forecasts and operational impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Beyond the layoffs, “several other” employees will have their work hours reduced. Additionally, members of the nonprofit’s senior leadership have chosen to take a pay cut.

According to the company, the moves will “immediately impact its U.S.-based staff, and its regional offices throughout the world” in the coming weeks.

“Habitat for Humanity is a ministry of people who share a vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International.

“For so many of our team, Habitat is not merely a job — it is a cause. It breaks our hearts to take these significant, but necessary, actions,” Reckford continued. “We are compelled by the economic realities of this global pandemic, and by our responsibility to steward Habitat for Humanity so that we can resume serving our communities as quickly as is safe to do.”

The company’s network of programs served more than 7 million people last year, and has helped more than 29 million people find new or improved housing since 1976.

According to the nonprofit, the spread of the virus has hit the company hard in recent weeks.

As the virus spread, Habitat suspended the “vast majority” of its construction activities throughout the U.S. and around the world. Beyond that, more than 900 home improvement Habitat ReStores in the U.S. and Canada are closed to the public.

Habitat also suspended its Global Village volunteer builds through the end of 2020.

According to the company, volunteer fees from these builds provide “significant funding” for Habitat’s work in many of the 70 countries where it operates.

“Since the initial spread of the virus, Habitat has taken several proactive steps to suspend its operations to help prevent the transmission among its volunteers, staff and the people in the communities it serves,” the company said. “These measures have had immediate financial impacts for the organization. Global economic turbulence has also led the donor-funded nonprofit to significantly revise its revenue projections.”

That’s left many of the local and national Habitat organizations facing “significant funding shortfalls,” leading to similar cost-cutting measures as the international organization is taking.

“Housing conditions can literally mean the difference between life and death,” Reckford said. “In any disaster, it is those with the least who are impacted the most. These are the families with whom Habitat partners. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure we are ready and able to answer the call.”

The company is also calling for additional support for the housing industry and those who occupy those homes.

“Habitat is also advocating, both in the United States and in the more than 70 other countries where it works, for housing stability during the pandemic crisis,” the company said. “That includes enlisting the support of its staff, volunteers and partners to call for foreclosure and eviction moratoriums as well as housing payment assistance and market liquidity.”

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