1.) Habitat for Humanity Gives Homes Away
This is probably the biggest misconception people have about Habitat for Humanity – that we just give houses away. On the contrary, we arrange for them to be sold affordably to people who would otherwise be unable to buy them. Homeowners don’t pay interest on their mortgages, and their mortgages are priced affordably for the homeowner.
Our organization sells homes to buyers who meet our program’s qualifications, take mandatory classes and agree to contribute 250 “sweat equity” hours. The Sweat Equity Hours requirement mandates that the homeowners work alongside volunteers on their new home, or in our Habitat stores. Rather than conventional financing through a bank, Habitat mortgages are financed directly through Habitat for Humanity Seattle – King County.
2.) Habitat was Founded by Jimmy Carter
It is easy to see where people got this idea, considering President Carter has been the public face of the organization for over 30 years. The Carters’ involvement began in 1984 when President Carter and his wife Rosalynn led a Habitat team in New York City tasked with renovating a six-story building that served 19 families in need. Now 95 years old, Carter still participates in Habitat builds and continues to lead his Carter Work Project (an annual home-building blitz organized by Habitat for Humanity.)
The idea behind Habitat for Humanity was actually created at Koinonia Farm, a small Christian community outside Americus, Georgia. It was founded in the early 1940s by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan. The community was one of the first interracial communities in the United States, a place where black and white people could work alongside each other with respect and understanding.
There on the farm, Jordan and Habitat’s eventual founders (Millard and Linda Fuller) created the idea of “partnership housing.” Partnership housing calls on future homeowners to work side by side with other volunteers to build quality, affordable homes.
In the decades since Koinonia Farm was established, Habitat for Humanity has continued to bring together people with different racial and cultural backgrounds to build homes, and improve their own communities.
3.) You need a Construction Background
If you have been hesitant about signing up as a volunteer because you didn’t think you had enough knowledge, worry no more! Habitat provides training for construction volunteers, and our AmeriCorps members and staff will be there with you to answer questions and give guidance. To learn more about our volunteer opportunities be sure and visit our website. Keep in mind that outside of new home construction we also need volunteers to help with Habitat’s home repairs team and inside our stores!
4.) Habitat only Builds New Homes
Building homes for local families is a big part of what we do, but Habitat also serves other needs in the community. We offer adult education classes on a variety of subjects for new homeowners, and our Home Repair Program provides repairs services to homeowners outside of Habitat who need assistance with critical repairs that will alleviate health and safety issues. Habitat also offers Home Preservation as a component of the Repair Program to address minor home maintenance.