Since its founding in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity International has built and rehabilitated more than 350,000 homes with families in need, becoming a true world leader in addressing the issues of poverty housing.
Habitat affiliates around the world follow the same basic model – volunteers work with future homeowners to build or renovate houses, which are then sold to partner families at no profit, with no interest charged on the mortgage. The money from the sale of each house goes into a revolving fund to support future building projects.
“Habitat has successfully removed the stigma of charity by substituting it with a sense of partnership. The people who will live in the homes work side by side with the volunteers, so they feel very much that they are on an equal level.” – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
History of Habitat International
The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity International was born at Koinonia Farm, a small, interracial, Christian farming community founded in 1942 outside of Americus, Ga., by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan.
Millard and Linda Fuller first visited Koinonia in 1965, having recently left a successful business in Montgomery, Ala., and all the trappings of an affluent lifestyle to begin a new life of Christian service. At Koinonia, Jordan and Fuller developed the concept of “partnership housing”—where those in need of adequate shelter would work side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses.
The houses would be built with no profit added and no interest charged, and building would be financed by a revolving “Fund for Humanity”. The fund’s money would come from the new homeowners’ house payments, donations and no-interest loans provided by supporters and money earned by fund-raising activities. The monies in the Fund for Humanity would be used to build more houses.
In 1968, Koinonia laid out 42 half-acre house sites with four acres reserved as a community park and recreational area. Capital was donated from around the country to start the work. Homes were built and sold to families in need at no profit and no interest. The basic model of Habitat for Humanity had begun.
In 1973, the Fullers decided to apply the Fund for Humanity concept in developing countries. The Fuller family moved to Mbandaka, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). The Fullers’ goal was to offer affordable yet adequate shelter to 2,000 people. After three years of hard work to launch a successful homebuilding program, the Fullers returned to the United States.
In September 1976, Millard and Linda called together a group of supporters to discuss the future of their dream, and Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) as an organization was born at this meeting.
In 1984, Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn took their first Habitat work trip, the Jimmy Carter Work Project, to New York City. Their personal involvement in Habitat’s ministry brought the organization national visibility, and HFHI experienced a dramatic increase in the number of new affiliates around the U.S.
Through the work of Habitat and its partner affiliates in nearly 90 countries, thousands of low-income families have found new hope in the form of affordable housing. Corporations, churches, community groups and others have joined together to successfully tackle a significant social problem—decent housing for all.
To date, Habitat has built more than 350,000 houses, sheltering more than 1.75 million people in more than 3,000 communities worldwide.