MILLEDGEVILLE — Murali Thirumal, executive director of Milledgeville and Baldwin County Habitat for Humanity, attended Habitat on the Hill 2013 in Washington, D.C. Feb. 4 to 5 advocating for important Habitat MBC related issues.
Held at the Renaissance Arlington Capitol View Hotel, this two-day event provided attendees the opportunity to meet with Congress in order to raise awareness about local issues at a national level. Thirumal met with various Georgia Congressional staffers including those under Representatives John Barrow, Paul Broun and Doug Collins, as well as Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
“I think it’s very important that local affiliates show up on Capitol Hill to meet with the nation’s legislature because we are the ones who directly interact with the homeowners at a grassroots level,” said Thirumal. “We carry much more credible weight showing up at our national legislator’s offices than representatives from Habitat for Humanity International.”
In 2011, Congress appropriated $26.9 million to the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) fund, which was cut to $13.5 million, nearly half of the original budget, in 2012. The amount recommended for 2013 SHOP funding is $20 million; it is very important this number does not decrease, which was a key topic during Habitat on the Hill.
“After nearly five years, Habitat MBC is preparing for its next house build,” said Thirumal. “On Saturday, Feb. 9, we will begin clearing off two lots, which is made possible through the SHOP grant we received in the past.”
Habitat relies heavily on federal funding programs, especially the SHOP, which enables Habitat affiliates nationwide to acquire land, purchase vacant properties and build infrastructure for Habitat homes.
“The funding that SHOP provides is for infrastructure and less glamorous parts of the build,” said Doris Moody, Board President of the Milledgeville affiliate. “This funding is extremely critical and truly does have an impact on local affiliates and what they are able to accomplish with the funding they have.”