Building Homes, Creating HOPE

Grand Homes - Hope Home GroundbreakingGrand Homes and about 50 Subcontractors are building a home in Little Elm that will raise $200,000 for a charity that provides small loans for entrepreneurs in 12 of the world’s poorest countries.


Stephen Brooks started Grand Homes with a loan from a lumber company.”They gave me a hand up, not a hand out,” says Brooks, the CEO of the large Texas homebuilder.

So it just seemed like paying it forward when Grand Homes and about 50 subcontractors joined forces to build a home that, when sold, will raise about $200,000 for HOPE International. This charity provides small loans to entrepreneurs in a dozen of the world’s poorest countries.

The loans, which average about $100 each, are used to start small ventures that have included basket weaving, selling sodas from a rented stall and planting a vegetable garden, all to support the business operators and their families. Recipients live in countries where the chance of getting a loan to start or expand a business is virtually nil.

Brooks estimates that the houses Grand Homes has built for the program will help 200,000 people.

“The payback spiritually is significant,” he says. “Homes for HOPE allows us to have an impact beyond our own community to help eliminate poverty in areas of need throughout the world.”

Homes for HOPE dispenses loans based on the character of the individual,  not collateral, credit reports or business plans. Five other businesspeople form a solidarity group and co-sign each loan. The repayment rate is 97 percent, says Brooks.

Grand’s home is under construction at 14117 Sparrow Hill in Little Elm. This is the fourth residence built for the charity, which amounts to about one a year. “It has taken on a life of its own,” Brooks says.

Grand and various subcontractors donate or discount their time and materials to build these homes. And that may have been the biggest surprise to Brooks.

Grand, which donates all proceeds from the project, built its first Homes for HOPE residence at the end of 2008, at the beginning of the housing crisis. Driving to the dedication, Brooks wondered how many subcontractors had participated. He expected the answer to be only a handful. When he read the list of contributors he counted 54 businesses.

“When times are the worst, if you do something for someone else, the payback is so much more meaningful,” he says.

In the homebuilding business, most companies got a helping hand from someone. Somebody believed in them, trusted them, brooks says, and that’s why building a home that raises money for those who need a hand means so much to them.

 A great example is Jack Nulty, who sold doors to Grand Homes. Nulty got so involved with the construction of the homes built for HOPE that when the organization, which teams up with 100 homebuilders around the country, needed a new director, he left door sales behind and joined the charity full time.

The Grand-built homes, priced in the $250,000 range, have sold quickly.

“There is something special about these homes,” Brooks says. “People walk in and just feel it.”

Article Courtesy of : Stewart Lytle, Dallas Morning News