Habitat for Humanity faces thefts, high construction costs

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Across the country, the cost of building materials has skyrocketed. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge is no stranger to the national construction price increase but they’re also dealing with thefts on their construction sites — adding to the price tag.

Over the weekend, one build was robbed of an estimated $300 worth of sheetrock. The home already facing delays from material deliveries, weather, and low volunteer turnout will once again have to wait.

“Just a couple weeks ago we were starting a brand new house and had all of the studs out there ready,” Executive Director Lynn Clark said. “We have a group of about 20 volunteers who had come out to help us build and about half the studs had been stolen.”

Clark said it is already a challenge getting the material with shortages. Ordering windows took weeks for them to arrive, now replacing the vandalized items is disappointing and a major setback. Moving forward, they plan to have the materials delivered the day they will use them to keep thieves at bay.

According to the National Home Builders Association, lumber prices have risen 300%. Clark said a piece of wallboard went from $8 to $40 during the pandemic. The added cost is raising the house price upwards of $14,000, which leads to Habitat for Humanity cutting back on the number of builds this year.

“We select the families before we ever start a house,” Clark said. “We have a family that has been approved for this home and selected it. So that just means it’ll take them even longer to realize their dream of homeownership.”

The Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge typically builds between 15-20 houses a year. In order to keep the rising prices from falling on the soon-to-be homeowners, they have cut down their number of builds to 11 this year. 

“Folks who don’t have that stability or that safe, healthy home have realized even more how important it is to them and their families and so we’ve had a lot more people who are interested in our program,” Clark said.

Prices of materials have started to go down and Habitat for Humanity is hopeful the trend will continue. They also hope more people will be willing to volunteer to speed up the building process. People can learn more about volunteering opportunities here.

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