Shantytown: a decades-old tradition raises money for affordable housing

On cool Autumn nights, most University of North Georgia students probably find themselves comfortable at home or in a warm dorm room, but this sadly isn’t the case for the 1.5 million homeless individuals in the United States. To raise awareness for the American homeless population, the UNG Habitat for Humanity chapter held its annual Shantytown event on the Dahlonega Campus on September 28.

For over two decades Shantytown has raised money to support affordable housing. Held in front of the Dahlonega UNG library, Shantytown provides UNG students the opportunity to construct temporary “housing” out of cardboard and duct tape. Students are then encouraged to stay in their shanties that night to get a bit of an idea of what it may be like to live in substandard housing.

Members of Delta Phi Epsilon pose in front of their completed shanty. (Photo by Jonathan Carr)

Among those building shanties was UNG sophomore Claire Saindon, who enjoyed her first time being involved in Shantytown at UNG. Saindon and her sorority sisters from Delta Phi Epsilon built an impressive shanty which included 3 of UNG’s famous golden steeples. She expressed just what the event meant to her and her sisters.

“The main cause behind it was just raising awareness for people who aren’t as well off as we are and aren’t as blessed with the things that we have,” Saindon said. “It brings things into perspective, especially with the disasters that have been happening. People that really don’t have homes might be in these situations. We’re just doing it for fun but it’s also a reality for some people.”

Also among the crowd at Shantytown was Vice President of Habitat for Humanity Hannah Coltrain, who was helping by handing out boxes and tape to UNG students. Coltrain outlined how the $450 raised by Shantytown 2017 would go towards helping the local community.

“All the proceeds go towards the Lumpkin County Habitat for Humanity Chapter which we work closely with by going to field days with them and repairing homes in the community,” Coltrain said. “Today is mostly for students as it’s our biggest fundraising event.”

Coltrain went on to describe additional ways UNG students could help their communities. Habitat for Humanity is looking for volunteers to help at the Habitat Re-store which is owned by the Lumpkin County Habitat. There they refurbish discarded and unwanted furniture, hardware and appliances and re-sell them at low cost to those around the community. Several work days are being set up for UNG volunteers. Any interested students can follow up with their volunteer chair, Samantha Park.

As for this year’s winners of Shantytown, there were three categories: the Greek Best Shanty which went to the Kappa Delta sorority, the Non-Greek Best Shanty which went to the UNG Honors Program and the “DJ’s Choice” award which went to the UNG Athletic Advisory Board.

Those interested in the event will be able to partake in next year’s event, which will be held again on the Dahlonega campus next fall.

About Jonathan Carr (12 Articles)
Jonathan Carr is a film major at UNG with an anthropology minor. While he has a background in radio and theater, Jonathan plans on moving forward in the film production industry. Writing for the Vanguard provides much needed journalism experience.

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