​​​Our Founder is Jimmy Carter: Things people know about Habitat for Humanity that aren’t true

July 28, 2016

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, Christian housing ministry. We believe that every person should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. We welcome all people to work with us in partnership. Since 1976, we have built or repaired over 1 million homes, serving more than 5 million people worldwide. As a Christian organization, we aim to share the love of Jesus with everyone we encounter irrespective of race, class, gender, or religion.

 

However, every week we meet people who believe things about us that aren’t true. The following are genuine responses to the question, WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HABITAT FOR HUMANITY (HFH)?

 

HFH was founded by President Jimmy Carter. Well, no. President Carter brought national attention to HFH when he led a rehab project in the 1980s, and continues to lead in HFH efforts to this day. (By the way, that’s not really his picture.) Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller.

 

HFH is LOADED so we don’t need to raise funds. That would be pretty cool. However, the truth is that every local HFH affiliate must fund its own mission. (HFH Fresno County did not approve our blogger’s idea for a used burrito sale.) Our ReStore (1631 Railroad Avenue, Clovis- directly north of Lowe’s) is a big piece of our fundraising. Go shop there. Now.

 

HFH uses mostly government funds to fund its mission. Yikes. That would put our mission at the mercy of politics, which could be a REALLY bad idea. Funding mainly comes from homeowner repayment of our non-interest bearing loans, and gifts from those who want to provide working capital for the builds (individuals like you and me!).

 

HFH gives houses away. Um, no. Habitat for Humanity Fresno County does not build houses FOR families; we facilitate a partnership among families need a home, can pay the mortgage, and are willing to partner in the construction. Homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor, or “sweat equity,” into building their Habitat house and pay back a no-profit, no-interest mortgage.

 

HFH provides homes for homeless people. We neither build nor operate homeless shelters. However, we help Fresno organizations that do support/partner with other orgs that have this is their mission without losing our own focus.

 

HFH only allows people on welfare to become Habitat homeowners. While some Habitat homeowners receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children, more are working people. Typically, their annual income is less than half the local median income in their community. We partner with those who desire a "Hand up," not a "Hand Out."

 

HFH Fresno only selects Southeast Asians to become Habitat homeowners or HFH only allows African Americans to become Habitat homeowners. Habitat builds houses in partnership with those in need regardless of race, religion or any other difference. Prospective homeowners must meet three criteria: need; ability to repay the mortgage; and a willingness to partner with Habitat. Families in need of decent, affordable shelter apply to their local Habitat affiliate. 

 

HFH only works outside of the United States. Since 1985 Habitat for Humanity, Fresno has built or revitalized over 150 homes in Fresno County. While Habitat is an International Organization, work abroad made mainly possible through funds generated within the US. 

 

HFH only allows Christians to become Habitat homeowners. While we are unapologetically Christian in faith and practice, we select prospective homeowners without regard to race, religion or ethnic group, in keeping with THE LAW and with Habitat’s belief that “God so loves the WORLD.” HFH will not offer assistance on the expressed or implied condition that people must adhere to or convert to Christianity.

 

HFH is a relief agency specializing in emergency housing. While our Disaster Response program works with local communities to address a variety of housing needs after natural disasters, emergency housing is not our mission. Our mission is long-term change, not short-term response.

 

HFH only does new construction. Nope, nu-huh, nugatory. Habitat also renovates existing buildings, particularly in urban areas. Our Neighborhood Revitalization initiative helps people repair and improve their own homes and neighborhoods. There is too much beautiful old architecture in Fresno that we can preserve in established neighborhoods.

 

HFH projects reduce existing neighborhood property values. Since that’s the exact OPPOSITE of our goals, we would have quit a long time ago if that were the case. In fact, studies show affordable housing builds has no adverse effect on neighborhood property values. Habitat builds actually increase property values, which changes the owners’ economic futures. HFH projects are often the first step towards neighborhood comebacks.

 

HFH only allows Christians to volunteer at home builds. Habitat also welcomes volunteers from all faiths, or no faith, who actively embrace Habitat’s goal of eliminating poverty housing from the world. Habitat for Humanity Fresno will not proselytize. Also, we won’t work with entities or individuals who insist on proselytizing as part of their work with HFH.

 

HFH rescues animals. That’s the Humane Society, not Habitat for Humanity.

 

HFH is a home insurance company. No idea where this came from. 

 

Finally, our favorite:

 

HFH can move a house pad five feet to the right after it’s poured if the homeowner asks.

 

Sorry. That’s David Copperfield.

 

Thanks for your time.

 

Please pass these Habitat Truths along.

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