Founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity International(HFHI) is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat invites people from all walks of life to work together in partnership to help build houses with families in need. Habitat has built approximately 50,000 houses around the world, providing over 150,000 people with safe, decent, affordable housing.
Through volunteer labor and deductible donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner(partner) families. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit, financed with affordable, no-interest loans. The homeowners' monthly mortgage payments go into a revolving Fund for Humanity that is used to build more houses.
Habitat is not a give-away program. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, each homeowner family invests hundreds of hours of their own labor-sweat equity-into the building of their house and the houses of others. The Wayne County affiliate requires a $500 down payment and 400 hours of sweat equity.
Single family homes in Wayne Co have averaged $40,000 to $45,000. In developing nations, a Habitat house costs $500 to $3000, depending on the design materials and location.
Habitat houses are affordable for low-income families because there is no profit included in the sale price, and no interest charged on the mortgage. The average length of a Habitat mortgage in the Unites States is 20 years.
Families apply to local Habitat affiliates. A 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 factor in choosing the families that receive Habitat houses.
There are now over 1,000 active affiliates located in all 50 states and the district of Columbia. There are also more than 100 building projects coordinated by international affiliates in over 40 nations around the world.
Habitat is a grass-roots movement. Concerned citizens from all walks of life come together as volunteers to form a HFHI affiliate on their community. Fundraising, house construction, family selection, and other key decisions are carried out by local affiliates. HFHI headquarters, located in Americus, Georgia, provides information, training, prayer support, and other services to Habitat affiliates worldwide.
Due to the extreme poverty found in many developing nations, Habitat affiliates overseas often receive funds for house building from HFHI headquarters. However, international affiliates are requires to raise as much of their funding locally as possible.
All Habitat affiliates are asked to tithe, to give 10% of their unrestricted cash contributions to fund house building work in developing nations.
Donations, whether to a local Habitat affiliate or to HFHI headquarters, are used as designated by the donor. Gifts recieved by HFHI headquarters that are designated to a specific affiliate or project are fowarded to that area. Any undesignated gifts are used where most needed overseas and for administrative expenses. HFHI's audited finacial statement is available upon request.
An ecumenical, international board of directors determines policy and monitors operations in conjuction with a board of advisors. Board members are dedicated volunteers who are deeply concerned about the problems of poverty housing around the world. HFHI headquarters operate with an administrative staff, assisted by a core group of clerical and support employees and supplemented by long-term and short-term volunteers. Each Habitat for Humanity affiliate is managed by a local volunteer board.
Habitat does not accept government funds for the construction of new house or the renovation or repair of existing houses. Habitat does accept government funds for the acquisition of land or houses in need of rehabilitation. Habitat also accepts government funds for streets, utilities, and administrative expenses, so long as the funds have no strings attached that would violate Habitat's principles or limit its ability to proclaim its Christian witness.
Anyone who wants to explore the possibility of eliminating poverty housing in his or her community is encouraged to contact HFHI's headquarters for information. Contact the Habitat Help Line at (912)924-6935, ext. 551 or 552 for more information on what it takes to establish a Habitat afiliate.
Volunteer information and applications are available from HFHI headquarters. Habitat needs volunteers to work with U.S. affiliates as well at headquarters. You can call the Habitat Help Line at the above number for the name of nearest Habitat affiliate to you, or if you live in the Greater Rochester Area contact one of the local affiliates. The Wayne County affiliate can be reached by calling 315-986-9915.
Habitat also needs volunteers to serve as International Partners(IPs) with Habitat affiliates in developing countries. IPs make at least a three-year commitment, including training at HFHI headquarters.
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