MYTH: Habitat for Humanity gives houses to poor people.
TRUTH: Houses are not given to anyone. Habitat for Humanity builds houses with those in need and then sells the houses to homeowner partners. Because of Habitat’s no-profit, no-interest loans, and because houses are built principally by volunteers, mortgage payments can be kept reasonable to those unable to obtain conventional financing for a home. Habitat homeowners typically have incomes that are 30-50 percent of the median income in the area. They are required to invest hundreds of hours in sweat equity—that is, time spent building their own home or other Habitat houses.
MYTH: Habitat builds houses only for minorities.
TRUTH: Habitat doesn’t build houses for anyone. We build houses with people in need, without regard to race. Three criteria drive the family-selection process: need; ability to repay the no-profit, no-interest mortgage during a 15- to 30-year period; and willingness to partner with Habitat. The U.S. Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in the sale of housing on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, handicap, familial status or national origin. The covenant that all local Habitat affiliates sign with Habitat for Humanity International also specifies that Habitat homeowner families are selected “according to criteria that do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed or ethnic background.”
MYTH: Habitat homeowners are on welfare.
TRUTH: While some Habitat homeowners do receive public assistance, most work at low-wage jobs. Habitat works in good faith with people who often are at risk in society, knowing that owning a home is not the answer to every problem but that it can be an important step— often the first step—toward helping people break out of the cycle of poverty.
MYTH: You have to be a Christian to become a Habitat homeowner.
TRUTH: Habitat for Humanity was founded as and unashamedly remains a Christian ministry. Homeowners are chosen without regard to creed, however, both in keeping with requirements of the law and Habitat’s belief that God’s love extends to all—regardless of race, creed or nationality. Habitat also welcomes volunteers from all faiths—or no faith—who actively embrace the goal of eliminating poverty housing from the world.
MYTH: Habitat houses allow people to move from poverty to fancy new houses.
TRUTH: Any newly built house is going to be a dramatic change for a family that has been living in a shack, hut or run-down apartment. But Habitat houses are not extravagant by any standard. Habitat’s philosophy is to build simple, decent houses. Under house-design criteria approved by Habitat for Humanity International’s board of directors, living space in a three-bedroom house, for example, is not to exceed 1,050 square feet. The average cost in the United States of a three-bedroom Habitat house is just over $53,000.
MYTH: Habitat houses lower neighborhood property values.
TRUTH: Many studies of low-cost housing show that afford- able housing has no adverse effect on other neighborhood property values. Habitat firmly believes its approach to affordable housing improves neighborhoods and commu- nities by strengthening community spirit and increasing the tax base while building better citizens through the cooperative efforts involved in Habitat construction.
MYTH: Habitat homeowners sell their houses and make a large profit because of the original low cost.
TRUTH: Special second mortgages that are “paid off ” by living in the house, as well as first buy-back option clauses
that many Habitat affiliates put into their agreement with homeowners help alleviate concerns that some people may have regarding the resale of houses.
MYTH: Habitat for Humanity is a southern poverty program.
TRUTH: Habitat for Humanity International started in the southern United States and remains based in Americus, Ga. It is a global partnership, however, drawing families in need together with volunteers and resources to build simple, decent houses all over the world. Habitat currently works in 87 countries.
MYTH: Habitat for Humanity is an arm of the government.
TRUTH: Habitat for Humanity International is an indepen- dent, nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. It is not an arm of the government, nor an arm of any particular church denomination. Habitat does accept government funds for the acquisition of land or houses in need of rehabilitation. Habitat also accepts government funds or services for setting the stage for house build- ing—eg., streets, utilities and administrative expenses.
MYTH: Habitat for Humanity was started by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
TRUTH: Habitat for Humanity International was started in Americus, Ga., in 1976 by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, are longtime Habitat supporters and vol- unteers who help bring national and international atten- tion to the organization’s house-building work. They lead the annual Jimmy Carter Work Project to help build houses and raise awareness of the need for affordable housing. Since the first work project in 1984, more than 1,000 houses have been built in conjunction with JCWP events.
MYTH: Habitat for Humanity has chapters in every state and throughout the world.
TRUTH: Habitat operates through locally run affiliates, rather than through chapters controlled by the broader organization. Affiliates are grass-roots organizations of local people coming together to address local housing needs. As such, the affiliates are independent, nonprofit organizations that operate within specific service areas in a covenant relationship with Habitat for Humanity International.
MYTH: Habitat for Humanity builds only in cities—or builds only in rural areas.
TRUTH: Habitat—through local affiliates—is at work in cities, suburbs and rural areas, in highly developed countries and in developing countries. Because poverty housing is so widespread, Habitat’s work goes on 365 days a year in locations throughout the United States and around the world.
MYTH: Poverty housing is such a large problem that it can never be solved.
TRUTH: Poverty housing is a huge issue. But Habitat believes that by continuing to build houses with those in need, by working with other committed groups, and by putting the issue of poverty housing on the hearts and minds of compassionate people everywhere, the problem can be solved. Habitat’s 21st Century Challenge calls com- munities together to eliminate substandard housing in their area. Communities are accepting that challenge to build with a definite plan and at a rate that makes it possible to eliminate substandard housing. In 2000, New Horizons Habitat for Humanity in Americus, Ga., and other local groups realized the goal of making affordable housing available for every family in Sumter County, Ga.
Habitat for Humanity® International
121 Habitat St. Americus, GA 31709-3498 USA
In the USA or Canada (800) 422-4828
outside the USA: 01-229-924-6935 fax: (229) 928-8811
CMHFH builds and renovates simple, decent, and affordable homes in partnership with families between 30%-60% of the area median income. The need is great. Almost 25% live in poverty locally--St. Cloud’s percentage was the highest of all large Minnesota cities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul. (St. Cloud Times, August 27, 2008)
Habitat homes are not free. They are sold to selected Habitat homeowners at no profit with zero-interest mort- gages. Their house payments are used to build future Habitat homes throughout Central Minnesota.
Habitat homeowners are selected based on need, the ability to pay back a zero-interest mortgage, and their willingness to partner with Habitat by attending Homeowner Education classes and completing Sweat Equity. CMHFH serves all members of the community, regardless of race or ethnic background.
Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian housing ministry, open to people from all walks of life. CMHFH was started in 1989 and has partnered with 62 families to complete 62 homes, housing 280 people--190 of them children. 58 original homeowners still live in their Habitat Homes to this day!
The volunteer-composed Family Selection and Family Support Committees select the Habitat homeowners and then work to support the families during the building process and into the first year of their homeownership experience. Your help is always welcome.
While Habitat International does have a set of standard for all homes built, the homes vary in size and appearance because each individual home is funded by different sources. Substantial grants and large donations dedicated to specific homes and features result in each home being a little different.
Habitat homes are affordable and are priced with a formula set by the Board of Directors according to family income. Donated materials, financial contributions, and donated labor keep the homes affordable. Habitat holds a second mortgage between the selling price and the appraised value, and the homeowners earn that equity back over time.
Habitat is a global partnership. CMHFH tithes to Habitat International to build Habitat homes in underdeveloped countries. In 2009, we tithed enough funds to build approximately 11 homes in Central and South America.