MYTHS

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS DEBUNKED

We find that many people have misunderstandings about how Habitat works, and that they are pleased when they learn the facts. If you have a question that aren’t answered here, e-mail the question to us and we’ll get back to you with an answer.

Fact: Habitat homes are never given away. The families pay for the homes through a mortgage held by the Habitat affiliate. The purchase price is what it cost the Habitat affiliate to build the home, and the mortgage carries no interest. The average price for a Habitat home in the US is $65,000. The no-profit sale and no-interest mortgage help make Habitat homes affordable. Mortgage payments made by Habitat homeowners are used over and over for the construction of additional homes. That has been a major factor in Habitat’s continuing growth.

Fact: The International organization provides some financial aid to affiliates, but that support makes up a small part of the cost of the homes built each year by Habitat affiliates. Each affiliate is responsible for its own fund raising efforts.

Fact: Some Habitat homeowners do have problems and find that they are unable to keep up on their mortgage payments. But the rate of foreclosure on Habitat mortgages is low, 1.5 percent according to statistics for North America compiled by the international organization. That is within the range for all mortgages in the country, even though Habitat only works with low-income families.

Fact: The Habitat selection criteria and process guarantees that’s not the case. To qualify for a Habitat home, a family’s income should be less than 60 percent of the median income for their community, a figure which would keep them from qualifying for a conventional mortgage.

Fact: The former president is Habitat’s “Most Famous Volunteer,” not its founder. Habitat was founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller near Carter’s home of Plains, Georgia, but Carter was busy elsewhere that year — running for and being elected president.

The first Jimmy Carter Work Project was in 1984 in New York City, an event which launched Habitat on the world stage. It’s now a fixture in the Habitat calendar which draws thousands of volunteers each year.

In 2007 the annual event was renamed the Jimmy and Roslynn Carter Work Project. The 2007 project took place in Los Angeles, Calif., Oct. 28-Nov. 7. The 2008 project will take place in May on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

For more information, visit the Habitat for Humanity International website.

Fact: Habitat for Humanity is a tax exempt organization, but it sells the houses it builds to homeowners so they immediately go on the tax rolls. Since the homes were either vacant lots or homes in need of significant renovation before the Habitat project took place, the result is an increase in the local tax base which benefits all property tax payers in the community.

Often Habitat projects spur other homeowners in the area to improve their properties as well, which benefits the entire community.