Habitat for Humanity International ia a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make a decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need. Habitat has built some 200,000 houses around the world, providing almost 1 million people in more than 3,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter. HFHI was founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller along with his wife Linda.
Through volunteer labor and 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 are used to build still more Habitat houses. Habitat is not a giveaway program. In addition to a down payment and the monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor — sweat equity — into building their Habitat house and the houses of others.
Habitat for Humanity’s work is accomplished at the community level by affiliates — independent, locally run, nonprofit organizations. Each affiliate coordinates all aspects of Habitat home building in its local area — fund raising, building site selection, partner family selection and support, house construction and mortgage servicing. Habitat for Humanity International’s headquarters, located in Americus , Ga. , USA , provides information, training and a variety of other support services to Habitat affiliates worldwide.
All Habitat affiliates are asked to “tithe” — to give 10 percent of their contributions to fund house-building work in other nations. Tithing provides much-needed funds for international building, and it also gives affiliates the opportunity to demonstrate the spirit of Christian partnership. In 2001, U.S. affiliates tithed $9.04 million to support Habitat’s work overseas. Some affiliates in developing countries also receive funding grants from Habitat for Humanity International.
Habitat is a worldwide, grass-roots movement. There are more than 2,100 active affiliates in 100 countries, including all 50 states of the United States , the District of Columbia , Guam and Puerto Rico .
Donations are used as designated by the donor. Gifts received by HFHI that are designated to a specific affiliate or building project are forwarded to that affiliate or project. Undesignated gifts are used where most needed and for administrative expenses.
An ecumenical, international board of directors determines policy and oversees and guides the mission of Habitat for Humanity International. Board members are dedicated volunteers who are deeply concerned about the problems of poverty housing around the world. The HFHI headquarters office operates with an administrative staff, assisted by a core group of professional and support employees and supplemented by long-term and short-term volunteers. Each Habitat for Humanity affiliate is managed by its own local volunteer board.
Affordable housing in Walton County is in extremely short supply and disappearing fast. The average price for a home on the Emerald Coast of Florida exceeds $180,000 and the fair rental value of property is greater than $800 a month. Many people will be moving to Walton County in the years ahead to take new jobs (some projections call for doubling of the population in the next decade), many of them low-paying. Meanwhile, some working families are paying 50% or more of their household income on housing that is often sub-standard. This requires them to dangerously cut back their spending in other important areas, such as food, clothing, health care, child care and education. These are areas that mean increased need of other public and charitable social services, services that would not be needed as much if affordable housing were available.
The Family Selection Committee, a team of compassionate, committed volunteers accountable the Board of Directors, chooses partner families based on their level of need, their willingness to become partners in the program, and their ability to repay the no-interest loan. Every project follows a non-discriminatory policy of family selection.