Frequently Asked Questions
What is Habitat for Humanity International?
Founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate substandard 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. Today, we have helped build over 400,000 decent, affordable houses and served more than 2 million people around the world. (Millard Fuller is pictured at right, working on the 50,000th Habitat house in Pensacola, Florida, in 1996. Click on the photo to see it larger.)
How does it work?
Through volunteer labor and tax-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 the 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.
What does a Habitat house cost?
The average price for a Habitat home in the United States is between $50,000 and $80,000.. The no-profit sale and no-interest mortgage help make Habitat homes affordable. Prices will vary depending on location and the costs of land and materials. In developing nations, a Habitat house can costs as little as $500, although they generally range between $3,000 and $5,000. 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 United States is 20 years.
How are the partner families selected?
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 a factor in choosing the families that receive Habitat houses.
Where does Habitat for Humanity International operate?
Habitat is a worldwide organization, operating in all 50 states of the US, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and dozens of other countries. Habitat is a grassroots movement. Concerned citizens from all walks of life come together as volunteers to form a HFHI affiliate in their community. Fund-raising, house construction, family selection and other key decisions are carried out by the 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 required 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.
How are donations distributed and used?
Donations, whether to a local Habitat affiliate or to HFHI headquarters, are used as designated by the donor. Gifts received by HFHI headquarters that are designated to a specific affiliate or project area are forwarded to that area. Any undesignated gifts are used where most needed overseas and for administrative expenses. HFHI's audited financial statement is available on request.
Who manages Habitat for Humanity International?
An ecumenical, international board of directors determines policy and monitors operations in conjunction with a board of advisors. Board members are dedicated volunteers who are deeply concerned about the problems of substandard housing around the world. HFHI headquarters operates 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.
How does Habitat work with the government?
Habitat accepts government funds as long as the funds have no strings attached that would violate Habitat's principles or limit its ability to proclaim its Christian witness.
How does a Habitat for Humanity affiliate get started?
Anyone who wants to explore the possibility of eliminating substandard housing in his or her community is encouraged to contact HFHI's headquarters for information. Call (800) HABITAT or (800) 422-4828 for more information on what it takes to establish a Habitat affiliate.
How can I become a volunteer?
Volunteer information and applications are available from HFHI headquarters. Habitat needs volunteers to work with US. affiliates as well as at headquarters. You can call (800) HABITAT for the name and location of the Habitat affiliate nearest you. If you are interested in volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Seneca County, call our local office (315) 568-1190, or send an e-mail to info@habitatseneca.org. There's also more information about volunteering on this web site. Habitat also needs volunteers to serve as International Partners (IPs) with Habitat affiliates in developing countries. IPs make at least a three-year service commitment, including training at HFHI headquarters.
How else can I help?
Get involved! Pray for the work of Habitat for Humanity. Contribute financially to HFHI or your local Habitat affiliate, and/or participate in Habitat fund-raising events. HFHI affiliates need people to help build, to serve on committees and to spread the word about Habitat. Call (800) HABITAT for more information. A wide variety of books, videos and literature is available to help you share Habitat's vision with others. Materials may be ordered by mail, phone or fax. HFHI invites you to join in the exciting partnership of building houses with God's people in need.
Equal Opportunity Housing We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation. We encourage and suggest an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.