Tyson Foods and Habitat for Humanity Omaha mark one-year partnership
Volunteer construction workers with Habitat for Humanity work on a new home. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A yearlong partnership between Habitat for Humanity Omaha and Tyson Foods has helped 30 Tyson employees purchase a home.
Tyson Foods recognized that some of their employees needed help buying a home. They reached out to a dozen Habitat for Humanity chapters before contacting the Omaha organization, which agreed to partner with them.
Amanda Brewer, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Omaha, said that while every chapter has to follow the global organization’s rules, individual chapters are focused more on their specific community and its needs, and can operate with some autonomy.
Therefore, the Omaha chapter was able to work with Tyson Foods and help its employees participate in Habitat’s Almost Home program.
“Housing is a hidden problem,” Brewer said. “When the employer helps, it gets rid of the stigma.”
Brewer said a lot of barriers can keep someone from buying a home. The Almost Home program aims to help families who want to purchase a home become “mortgage-ready.”
Matched with financial counselor
Tyson Foods’ role in the partnership was to send out internal communication to its employees about the program and explain how they could go about signing up.
After they sign up, Habitat for Humanity matches participants with one of its financial counselors. From there, the financial counselors help participants construct a plan to raise their credit score and eliminate debt.
Some participants become ready to buy sooner than others, Brewer said, adding, “it is always possible to clear up their credit [to become mortgage ready].”
Three weeks ago, Thay Htoo, a Tyson Foods employee, moved into his new home with his girlfriend and three children. Htoo moved to the United States almost seven years ago from Thailand and has been a Tyson employee for five years.
“I know a lot of people at my workplace and community that went through Habitat, so I decided to do so,” Htoo said. He spoke with the Nebraska Examiner with the help of an interpreter.
Htoo said it took him two years to become mortgage-ready, but he said Habitat was supportive and helped him with everything he needed throughout the process.
Currently, Habitat for Humanity has three pathways to homeownership. Buyers can purchase a home built by Habitat for Humanity with financing through the organization, buy a house on the open market with financing from Habitat for Humanity, or purchase a home through the open market with a conventional loan.
Over the past year, Brewer said, Habitat for Humanity Omaha was able to help over 100 Tyson Foods employees in some way. Thirty employees were ready to buy a home after one year in the program, and 10 others are in the process of buying a home by the end of this month.
In celebration of this, several Tyson Food executives plan to attend a cookout with the new homeowners and Habitat staff on Friday.
Before the Habitat for Humanity Omaha chapter worked with Tyson Foods, it worked with Nelson Mandela Elementary School employees with its Almost Home program.
It has since begun partnerships with the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Beardmore auto dealership in Bellevue to help their employees purchase homes.
Brewer said the local Habitat program only has capacity to add two Almost Home partnerships each year, but she said she hopes to scale up and work with more in the future.
The housing market has been profitable to investors looking to flip homes or increase rental property portfolios, making home buying more difficult for lower-income Omahans.
“We want to compete with the investors and help hard-working Omahans buy a house,” Brewer said. “If we want our workers to live in our community, then having employers be a part of the solutions is a win-win-win for everyone.”
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