Through the work of Habitat, thousands of low-income families have found new hope in the form of affordable housing. Churches, community groups and others have joined together to successfully tackle a significant social problem – decent housing for all.
Today, Habitat for Humanity has built more than 300,000 houses, sheltering more than 1.5 million people in more than 3,000 communities worldwide.
The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity International was born at Koinonia Farm, a small, interracial, Christian community outside of Americus, Georgia. Koinonia Farm was founded in 1942 by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan. The Fullers first visited Koinonia in 1965. They had recently left a successful business and an affluent lifestyle in Montgomery, Alabama to begin a new life of Christian service. At Koinonia, Jordan and Fuller developed the concept of “partnership housing.” The concept centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses.
The houses would be built at no profit and interest would not be charged on the loans. Building costs would be financed by a revolving fund called “The Fund for Humanity.” The fund’s money would come from the new homeowners’ house payments, no-interest loans provided by supporters and money earned by fund-raising activities. The monies in the Fund for Humanity would be used to build more houses.
In 1968, Koinonia laid out 42 half-acre house sites with four acres reserved as a community park and recreational area. Capital was donated from around the country to start the work. Homes were built and sold to families in need at no profit and no interest. The basic model of Habitat for Humanity was begun.
In 1973, the Fullers decided to apply the Fund for Humanity concept in developing countries. The Fuller family moved to Mbandaka, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo.) The Fullers’ goal was to offer affordable yet adequate shelter to 2,000 people. After three years of hard work to launch a successful house building program, the Fullers returned to the United States.
In September 1976, Millard and Linda called together a group of supporters to discuss the future of their dream. Habitat for Humanity International as an organization was born at this meeting. The eight years that followed, vividly described in Millard Fuller’s book, “Love in the Mortar Joints,” proved that the vision of a housing ministry was workable. Faith, hard work and direction set HFHI on its successful course.
In 1984, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn took their first Habitat work trip, the Jimmy Carter Work Project, to New York City. Their personal involvement in Habitat’s ministry brought the organization national visibility and sparked interest in Habitat’s work across the nation. HFHI experienced a dramatic increase in the number of new affiliates around the country.
WHAT IS HABITAT FOR HUMANITY:
- A nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry.
- They seek to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.
- To accomplish these goals, they invite people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need.
- Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda.
- Today, they have built over 350,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1.75 million people in 3,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter.
HOW DOES IT WORK:
- Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses alongside their homeowner (partner) families.
- Habitat is not a giveaway program. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor (sweat equity) into building their Habitat house and the houses of others.
- Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with affordable loans.
- The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are used to build more Habitat houses.
HOW ARE PARTNER FAMILIES SELECTED:
- Families in need of decent shelter apply to local Habitat affiliates.
- The affiliate’s family selection committee chooses homeowners based on their level of need, their willingness to become partners in the program and their ability to repay the loan.
- Every affiliate follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection.
- Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing the families who receive Habitat houses.
For more information, please check out Habitat For Humanity.