Habitat for Humanity International FAQs

What is Habitat for Humanity International?

Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness worldwide, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat invites people from all walks of life to work together in partnership to help build houses with families in need. Habitat has built more that 150,000 houses around the world, providing some 500,000 people in more than 2,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable housing. HFHI was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller.

How does it work?

Through volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money and material, Habitat builds and renovates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner (partner) families. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit, and financed with affordable, no-interest loans. The homeowners' monthly mortgage payments go into a "Fund for Humanity" that is used to build more houses. Habitat carries out its mission at the community level through organized groups called affiliates. Affiliates around the world raise the funds used to construct houses. Some affiliates also receive grants from Habitat for Humanity International. Habitat is not a "give-away" program. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor - sweat equity - into building their own houses and others' houses.

How are partner families selected?

Families in need of decent shelter apply to local Habitat affiliates. The affiliate's family selection committee chooses homeowners based on their level of need, their willingness to become partners in the program and their ability to repay the no-interest loan. Every affiliate follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection. Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing the families who receive Habitat houses. In Costa Rica, families must own a lot before being considered.

Where does Habitat for Humanity International operate?

There are now nearly 2000 affiliates in all 50 states of the United States, the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico, and 84 other countries around the world. Habitat is a grassroots movement. Concerned citizens from all walks of life come together as volunteers to form an HFHI affiliate in their community. Fundraising, house construction, family selection and other key decisions are carried out by the local affiliates. HFHI's headquarters office, located in Americus, Georgia, USA, provides information, training, and a variety of other support services to Habitat affiliates worldwide.

How are donation distributed and used?

Donations, whether to a local Habitat affiliate or to HFHI, 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 use where most needed and for administrative expenses. HFHI's most recent audited financial statement is available upon request.

Who controls and manages Habitat for Humanity International?

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 problem 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 a local volunteer board.