12/29/2010 02:27 pm ET Updated 6 days ago

Keeping the American Dream of Homeownership Alive

We are all too familiar with the incredible devastation that the foreclosure crisis as inflicted across America: homeowners left destitute, communities destroyed, businesses ruined.

Included in the collatoral damage is the near-demise of a long-held national ideal, a belief that for many decades has given Americans a shared purpose and aspiration -- the American Dream of homeownership as a path to financial stability.

Now on life-support, the ambition of owning a home has been roundly trashed and blamed for everything from rampant greed to the downfall of the economy. Liar's loans, subprime lending, mortgage-backed securities, an economy in shambles. Much of the finger-pointing was leveled at low-income families, who dared to dream that owning a home would secure their futures.

Here at Habitat for Humanity - New York City, the New York City affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, the dream is alive. We firmly believe that low-income, hard-working New York City families -- the people who staff our nursing homes and hospitals, drive our buses and cabs, help our teachers, serve us at stores and restaurants and keep our city running smoothly -- can become responsible, successful homeowners.

There are reams of studies to support affordable homeownership, reports that show that owning a home can be a successful path out of poverty, increase a family's health, improve children's school performance and stabilize neighborhoods.

But rather than subject you to dry statistics and academic reports, I'd like to introduce you to a Habitat-NYC family, who will tell you in their own words how their Habitat home was not only life-changing -- but also life-saving.

Since 2003, Candace George and her five children have lived in a healthy, green and affordable Habitat-NYC home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, which they helped build alongside hundreds of volunteers. Candace recently met Arianna Huffington, who was enthralled with the family's story. I know you will be, too.

Please meet them, listen to their story -- and join us in keeping the American Dream of homeownership alive! Meet the George family.