Habitat NYC’S interfaith unity build focuses on renovating home in Jamaica

The message of the banner at left, “In This Together,” fits the theme of a “Build for Unity” interfaith prayer service, taking place at Plymouth Church next Wednesday. The Plymouth sanctuary is pictured on the occasion of the installation of its current senior minister, the Rev. Dr. Brett Younger, in 2016.  Eagle  file photo by Francesca N. Tate.

The message of the banner at left, “In This Together,” fits the theme of a “Build for Unity” interfaith prayer service, taking place at Plymouth Church next Wednesday. The Plymouth sanctuary is pictured on the occasion of the installation of its current senior minister, the Rev. Dr. Brett Younger, in 2016. Eagle file photo by Francesca N. Tate.

By Francesca Norsen Tate

Each year, people from many faith traditions and organizations join forces with Habitat for Humanity NYC for a two-day build.

Habitat NYC believes that the building of houses also builds solidarity among people. Build for Unity stands against division and hate by fostering a multi-faith collaboration that brings together people of all colors, creeds and communities to counter intolerance and to build affordable homes that lower-income families can afford.

A "Build for Unity" Interfaith Prayer Service will anticipate the work event, and will be hosted at Plymouth Church the Wednesday before, June 12 at 6 p.m. All are welcome, and a reception will follow the service.

The 2019 Habitat Build for Unity, taking place next Saturday, June 15, will focus on building affordable homes and build a stronger community in Jamaica. This year an estimated 100 volunteers are expected to participate. The June 15 build will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 101-64 132nd Street, Jamaica, NY 11419. The site is just off the Van Wyck Expressway, north of JFK International Airport.

The faith groups participating in Build for Unity will be working on a home that is one of Habitat NYC’s portfolio of 23 vacant and dilapidated single-family homes in Brooklyn and Queens, all of which were purchased from the New York City Housing Authority. Many of these properties have fallen into severe disrepair and have a negative impact on the surrounding community. Habitat NYC is working to rehabilitate them into affordable, energy efficient homes for low-income families who are first-time homebuyers.

In addition to Habitat NYC, the faith groups serving Brooklyn and Queens that will participate in Saturday’s build include: Plymouth Church (Brooklyn Heights); Thrivent Financial (NYC and Long Island); UJA Federation of New York; Townsend Harris High School; the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee; Congregation Ansche Chesed; the Queens Coalition, (a group of Queens churches, mostly Roman Catholic, and based in Bayside); The Sikh Coalition NYC; and Who is Hussain?, (an organization serving NYC and North New Jersey).

A statement from Habitat NYC reads, “There is much division in the world—and it is manifesting in anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, and unadulterated hate—feelings and beliefs that tear down and break apart communities and the families and people who live within them. Build for Unity is an opportunity for people of faith to stand together against hate and to provide light and hope where there is fear and darkness. This is demonstrated by their work to provide the most basic needs a family can have: an affordable, safe and well-built home.”

Habitat for Humanity New York City is part of this international organization, transforming lives and communities by building and preserving affordable homes with hardworking families—and by uniting all New Yorkers around the cause of affordable housing and homeownership. With the help of thousands of volunteers each year, Habitat NYC builds and repairs homes for families across the five boroughs.

Previous Habitat Builds have focused on other neighborhoods around the New York City metropolitan area, for example, in recent years, the Dean Street Residences in Brooklyn’s Ocean Hill-Brownsville neighborhood.