Habitat for Humanity: Myths and Facts

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tags: Myths & Facts

Habitat for Humanity has a relatively short history. Founded in 1976, the nonprofit is young when compared to other US based organizations such as the Red Cross(founded in 1881) or the American Cancer Society (founded in 1913).

However, in the past forty years we’ve seen a lot of growth. Along with international growth and worldwide name recognition though has come a few mixups about not only our history, but also our mission. How much about Habitat for Humanity do you know, or think you know?

MYTH ​Habitat builds houses for poor people and gives them away for free.
FACT ​Habitat partners with hardworking families to build homes, the families then make a down payment and pay a 30 year no-interest mortgage. As part of their willingness to partner, Habitat’s homebuyers invest hundreds of hours of their own labor, called sweat equity, working alongside volunteers and other Habitat homeowners.

MYTH​ Housing is a third world issue, not an American one.
FACT ​Nowhere in the U.S. will a full-time minimum wage job pay for a median one-bedroom apartment; in 30 states, two minimum-wage jobs won’t cover the rent.

MYTH ​Habitat for Humanity was started by President Jimmy Carter.
FACT ​Partnership housing was being practiced by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan. After Millard and Linda Fuller spent time with Jordan on his farm in Georgia called Koinonia Farm, they founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976. The Carters first volunteered with Habitat in 1984 and have been partnering with and advocating for Habitat ever since. “Habitat is not a sacrifice that we make for others,” President Carter says. “Habitat is a blessing for those of us who volunteer to help others.”

MYTH ​Habitat for Humanity is a tax-payer funded program.
FACT ​Habitat for Humanity qualifies for and applies for government funded grants and other funding programs and we accept government funds as long as they have no conditions that would violate our principles or limit our ability to proclaim our Christian identity. However, Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical (non-denominational) housing ministry. We mainly rely on gifts from individuals, corporations and other groups to help families in need of decent and affordable homes around the world.

MYTH ​Habitat for Humanity only operates in the United States.
FACT ​Habitat for Humanity operates in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in over 70 countries around the world. Our operational headquarters are located in Americus, Georgia, and our administrative headquarters are in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

MYTH ​Habitat only builds new homes.
FACT ​Habitat for Humanity works in a number of different ways to create decent, affordable housing. In addition to new construction, Habitat also renovates existing homes in many communities, particularly in urban areas. Habitat for Humanity also helps people repair and improve their own homes and neighborhoods.

Our Disaster Response works with local communities to address a variety of housing needs after natural disasters. Habitat’s advocacy work raises awareness and support for decent and affordable housing around the world and outside of North America, Habitat works with partner organizations to serve even more families through innovative financing methods.