Think for a moment about “going home.” The other half of “going home,” is “leaving home” – to make your way in the world, to earn a living, to go to school, to face challenges and opportunities. 

For many Texans, coming and going doesn’t evoke warm feelings around the dinner table. It’s a source of stress and frustration. Not finding something affordable near work leads to hours-long commutes, arriving home too late to cook healthy dinners or see your child’s ball game or participate in civic life. 

Some opt to spend extra to live closer, but that leaves people subject to ever-increasing rents and less money for health care, education, and home upkeep. Across all income levels, one in seven Texans pays more than half their income on housing – even though the recommended budget for housing is 30% of income. 

An estimated 100,000 new single-family homes must be built every year for the next decade, just to keep up with growth (Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center). And stress at any level of the housing market pushes down to those who can least afford it. Can’t find a $500,000 home in your community? You can buy a $400,000 home, but that leaves fewer options available for our essential workers to buy a home near their $15/hour job. 

You may say, “The market will pick up the slack and build homes.” We’d say, “Why would they do that?” There is little to no profit in building homes for essential workers, even if they are the backbone of healthy communities.

Housing is a complex issue and a complex problem. From not being able to find skilled construction and trade labor to not being able to find anywhere to live at all, the entire housing spectrum is stressed. The business sector cannot solve this problem alone; the margins are too thin and they lack the experience to deal with people who need a safety net. The government sector can’t solve this problem; it moves too slowly and generally lacks innovation. The education and nonprofit sectors can’t solve the problem; they lack access to financial capital to have the scale they need to make a real difference. To paraphrase renowned TED Talker Dan Pallotta, “You can’t have enough bake sales to fund your way out of this.” 

We’ve set policies that created the “Texas Miracle.” Now we need those same lawmakers responsible for our Miracle to also create policies so everyone in Texas, through hard work, can reap the rewards. 

Only combined – harnessing the strength of business, government, and nonprofits – can we address these systemic issues that will only get worse for each and every segment of our communities. 

We encourage passage of HB 1704 in this legislative session. HB 1704 will set up a revolving loan fund in the Comptroller’s office, meaning that the money is dedicated, but gets replenished over and over again, generating a positive economic impact on the Texas economy at a return rate of 3:1, lining up to be $375 million investment within 20 years. 

This revolving loan fund will provide housing nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity all over Texas access to capital to help scale their work in meaningful ways such as building infrastructure, water lines and flood remediation. It will offer incentives to nonprofits partnering with businesses, community colleges, and high schools training skilled construction trades. Those students get real world, hands-on experience while giving back to our community. They then support other sectors that need skilled construction labor. 

This is a hand-up, not a hand-out. In short, it combines the very best of the sectors that move our economy forward. 

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was jointly penned by Amy Ledbetter Parham, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Texas, and Andy York, executive director of Bryan/College Station Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity Texas is a 501(c)3 organization that aims to empower its 71 affiliates in Texas to serve more families and individuals in need by providing assistance with advocacy, resource development, training and technical assistance, and disaster preparedness and support. To learn more about Habitat for Humanity Texas, visit

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