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Habitat For Humanity International (HFHI), generally referred to as Habitat for Humanity or simply Habitat, is an international, ecumenical Christian, non-governmental, non-profit organization devoted to building "simple, decent, and affordable" housing. Homes are built using volunteer labor and are sold at no profit. In locations outside the United States, Habitat for Humanity charges interest to protect against inflation. This policy has been in place since 1986.

History Edit

The organization was founded in 1976 in Americus, Georgia, by Millard and Linda Fuller. Its vision grew out of their experiences at Koinonia Farm. The international operational headquarters are located in Americus, with the administrative headquarters located in Atlanta. Staff members at all locations serve to support and promote the activities of local, independent Habitat for Humanity groups, which initiate and manage construction, mortgages and homeowner selection worldwide.

In 1996, U.S. President Bill Clinton awarded Fuller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, calling Habitat for Humanity “…the most successful continuous community service project in the history of the United States.”[1]

By 2004 Habitat organizations in more than 100 countries had built 50,000 houses in the U.S. and more than 150,000 around the world.”[2] In 2005 Habitat built its 200,000th house, bringing the number of people sheltered in Habitat houses worldwide to one million.

On August 4, 2005, Habitat announced the selection of a new Chief Executive Officer for the organization, former president of stores of Musicland and executive pastor of the Edina, Minnesota, Christ Presbyterian Church, Jonathan Reckford.[3]

In the fall of 2007, alternative rock bands Switchfoot and Relient K went on the Appetite for Construction Tour, partnering with Habitat while raising awareness for the organization and donating a dollar per ticket sold. The tour was highly successful, raising over $100,000 for donation to the cause.[4]

On November 13, 2008, Habitat for Humanity raised the walls on its 300,000th house in Collier County, Florida; the next day, work began on the 300,001st house in Zacapa, Guatemala.[5]

Qualifications for home ownership Edit

Habitat for Humanity at Fremont Fair 2007 - 04

A 2007 construction site in the United States.

According to the official website,

Homeowner families are chosen according to their need; their ability to repay the no-profit, affordable mortgage; and their willingness to work in partnership with Habitat. Habitat for Humanity does not discriminate according to race, religion or ethnic group.

Independent, local affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International are allowed to interpret these guidelines as is deemed most appropriate for the location of the affiliate.

Homeowners are usually expected to put approximately 500 hours of "sweat equity" into their own or other project homes, although this amount may vary by location, the number of wage-earning adults in each family, and the recipients’ health issues.

Mortgage payments from homeowners are deposited into a locally-administered "Fund for Humanity," the proceeds of which go toward future construction. In an effort to discourage predatory lenders from targeting Habitat homeowner families, mortgage agreements allow the Habitat for Humanity affiliate the right of first refusal. Should a homeowner family decide to sell their home during the period of their mortgage, the affiliate may buy it back at a price at least equal to the equity that the homeowner has paid into the mortgage.[6] Habitat for Humanity has over 500,000 members.

Charging InterestEdit

Habitat homeowners in the United States pay no interest on their no-profit mortgages. Habitat for Humanity organizations outside the United States adjust the no-profit loans to compensate for the inflation rate in their area, with the goal that "the repayments from one house should ideally build another house of the same design."[7]

Building Edit

HFHI GVDC Poverty Housing

At Habitat's Global Village and Discovery Center in Americus, Georgia visitors can experience the devastating nature of poverty housing and see life-size Habitat houses from around the world.

Habitat builds simple houses with locally appropriate materials. This could mean concrete block homes in Third World nations or poured concrete-walled homes in hurricane-prone regions of the United States. Habitat organizations in more developed countries are strongly encouraged to donate ten percent of the money they raise for local housing to the national group for the purpose of building Third World homes. For instance, Habitat New Zealand's tithe helps to support an equal number of housing outcomes abroad, predominantly in the Pacific region.

Habitat relies on volunteer labor in order to construct simple and affordable homes with its partner families, as well as to build community and civil society in the areas in which it works. Many volunteers are unskilled prior to first working with Habitat, although some professional or retired tradesmen or contractors may donate their services. Many churches and other houses of worship (synagogues, temples, mosques etc.) sponsor houses and provide a large amount of the volunteers from their congregations. Some corporations and businesses who value good corporate citizenship provide financial support to the projects and/or donate materials for use in construction. Many politicians and celebrities have volunteered with Habitat, reflecting its profile as a highly regarded non-profit.

Programs Edit

Habitat for Humanity International develops special programs to support local Habitat organizations. These programs are designed to engage specific groups for annual projects or on an ongoing basis.

Habitat's Gulf Coast Recovery Edit

Habitat initiated a special program to help restore housing to the areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The effort was focused on getting local affiliates in the area back on their feet and prepared to build for their communities. It also became a catalyst for other organizations, like The St. Bernard Project, corporations and the government to provide help and support in rebuilding the area and has received considerable national media attention.

As part of Operation Home Delivery, housing components were assembled in nearby less-affected locations such as Jackson, Mississippi, allowing much of the construction to be accomplished while basic infrastructure was being restored. Pre-constructed components were then shipped to the affected areas and built at a faster rate. Within two months of the time of the disaster, construction had begun on houses in the Louisiana cities of Covington and Slidell, near New Orleans.

Harry Connick Jr., and Branford Marsalis are honorary chairs of Habitat's hurricane rebuilding program, and one of the many projects along the Gulf Coast is the Musicians' Village at New Orleans Habitat for Humanity.[8]

Collegiate Challenge Edit

Habitat for Humanity runs a year-round alternative break program known as Collegiate Challenge for student groups age 16 and up.[9] Although summer, fall, and winter break trips are available, most participants go during their spring break. Collegiate Challenge volunteers travel to affiliates throughout the United States and participate in week-long building activities at their host's work sites. More than 14,000 volunteers took part in Collegiate Challenge in 2009, making it one of the world's largest alternative break programs. Since its inception in 1989, more than 165,000 students have participated in Collegiate Challenge and have donated more than $16,000,000 to Habitat for Humanity.

Global Village Trips Edit

As suggested by the name, Habitat for Humanity International places a strong emphasis on building homes around the world. Volunteers today can build with Habitat affiliates in many locations on Global Village Trips.[10] After having gone through training, trip leaders organize travel plans with the support of the Americus-headquartered Global Village Department, first formally established in 1988. Participants from all over are then able to register for trips to their destination of choice. Teams generally number between eight and fifteen, with trips usually lasting between nine to fourteen days.

When people of different faiths and cultures come together to build a house, individuals learn from and find new respect for one another. Coming together for the common goal of building a house with a neighbor in need has proven to be a successful way for bringing healing to divided communities and creating a sense of cross cultural unity.

Making it Better in the Long Term with Solar Edit

There are many projects that go hand in hand with the house building projects that allow these homes to supply their own electricity through the use of solar. U.S. companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) have partnered with Habitat for Humanity to provide complete solar grids for a few homes.[11] Other solar projects, mostly in the U.S., like one in San Francisco,[12] as well as efforts of individual citizens are trying to make a difference by raising funds to get more solar homes built.[13]

Home Builders Blitz Edit

During Home Builders Blitz 2008, more than 1,000 building industry professionals in 110 Habitat for Humanity affiliates built 263 new homes across the United States. This was the second national Home Builders Blitz program, which was begun on the local level in 2002 in Raleigh, N.C. Since then, the professional homebuilders industry has supported Habitat by building more than 800 homes.

Jimmy Carter Work Project Edit

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter became involved with Habitat for Humanity in 1984 and has since become its most high-profile proponent. He has been involved in fund-raising and publicity as well as actual homebuilding, taking part in the annual Jimmy Carter Work Project "blitz build".[14]

In 2008 Habitat for Humanity celebrated the 25th annual building project with the Carters and renamed it to include Mrs. Carter. The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project focused on supporting the Gulf Coast community seeking to rebuild after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Despite periodic downpours, volunteers got most of the work done during one week in June to finish building and fixing 60 houses and frame 48 more.[15]

During November 2009, volunteers will join Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia where houses will be built in the countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and the Yunnan Province in China. The week-long project will serve an estimated 300 families. It also will begin a five-year Habitat for Humanity initiative to work with 50,000 families across the five countries.[16]

Women Build Edit

Originating in 1991 with a Charlotte, North Carolina home built entirely by a crew of female volunteers, Habitat's Women Build program encourages women to make a difference by building homes and communities. Women Build projects provide an environment in which women can feel comfortable learning construction skills they might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn. Globally, more than 1,400 homes have been completed by Women Build volunteers.[17]

Women all over the United States are planning to participate in National Women Build week from May 2-10. The week-long build leading up to Mother's Day is designed to showcase the skills of Women Build volunteers and to motivate new volunteers to help families and change communities.

Habitat ReStore Edit

Habitat ReStores are retail outlets that re-sell new and used building and household materials donated by large companies, job sites, and individuals. Proceeds from ReStores help local affiliates fund the construction of Habitat houses within the community. Many affiliates across the United States and Canada operate successful ReStores—some of which raise enough funds to build an additional 10 or more houses per year.[18] A list of Habitat ReStores in your area can be found here.

Who Says You Can't Go Home Edit

The video for rock band Bon Jovi's song "Who Says You Can't Go Home" features Habitat for Humanity volunteers as well as the band building homes as part of Habitat for Humanity in Philadelphia, close to Bon Jovi's native New Jersey. It reflects Jon Bon Jovi's dedication to the organization and highlights the importance of community unity, faith, and involvement.

Habitat Bicycle Challenge Edit

The Habitat Bicycle Challenge (HBC), a nine-week, coast-to-coast bicycle trip undertaken to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven and to increase awareness of Habitat for Humanity in general, took place annually from 1995 to 2007. Prior to embarking in June on the 4000-mile trek, participants engaged in a seven-month fundraising campaign for Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven. Once on the road, they served as roaming advertisements for Habitat and gave nightly presentations explaining Habitat's mission to their hosts, usually church congregations. They also took part in builds with local Habitat chapters along the way. At its height, HBC attracted about 90 participants a year, all aged 18 to 24 and about half coming from Yale University. Each rider traveled one of three routes: New Haven to San Francisco, New Haven to Portland, or New Haven to Seattle. By 2004 HBC had become the single largest yearly fundraiser for any Habitat affiliate in the world, raising about $400,000 a year. However, amid growing safety concerns, Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven announced the cancellation of HBC in September 2007.

Bike and Build, a similar program, was founded in 2002 by a former HBC rider. Though not directly affiliated with Habitat for Humanity, it carries on the legacy of the Habitat Bicycle Challenge.

The Wall Project Edit

Wesley College, Melbourne is carrying out a joint fundraising and awareness program through theatrical production and is aiming to raise money to build education facilities in Afghanistan.

Criticism Edit

Although Habitat for Humanity enjoys high name recognition and regard as a non-profit, it has also been the subject of criticism. An article in the Weekly Standard[19] magazine questioned the cost-effectiveness of Habitat building projects. It is difficult to estimate effectiveness, as total volunteer hours on-site and aggregated homeowner financial data are not available.

However, Habitat houses in the United States are more affordable for low-income families than commercially built houses because volunteers help build the homes, which are sold at no profit.[20] In many countries, purchasing a Habitat house costs even less per month than renting substandard housing.[21]

Partnering with Low-Income FamiliesEdit

Families are required to show an ability to pay for their home in addition to the need for housing. With these requirements, homeless and low-income families may fail to qualify for a Habitat home. Most American Habitat affiliates perform credit checks and criminal record checks on applicants before partnering with them for the construction of a home. Some critics therefore allege that Habitat misrepresents the nature of its work by partnering with families that might be considered nearly "middle-income."[19] To address this, many Habitat affiliates in the United States partner only with families that fall below the government-set "poverty line" for their area. The current poverty rate is measured according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines.[22]

The credit and income requirements help assure that Habitat applicants are able to maintain their houses. Foreclosures on Habitat houses have been very low: 2%, according to official figures. The homeowners' monthly mortgage payments are used to build more Habitat homes.[23]

Ousting of the founder Edit

Habitat's founder, Millard Fuller, and his wife were dismissed by the Habitat board of directors on January 31, 2005, citing “a pattern of ongoing public comments and communications by the Fullers that have been divisive and disruptive to the organization’s work”[24] after Fuller was accused by a former female employee of "suggestive comments and inappropriate touching" during a ride to the Atlanta airport in 2003. The Habitat board investigated Fuller for sexual harassment but found “insufficient proof of inappropriate conduct.” Some Fuller supporters claim that the firing was due to a change in corporate culture.[25]

Before Fuller's termination, attempts were made by former President Jimmy Carter to broker an agreement that would allow Fuller to retire with his $79,000 salary intact; when Fuller was found to have violated the non-disclosure portion of this agreement, he was subsequently fired.[26]

Conflicts with Affiliates Edit

In January 2008 a dispute arose between the parent organization and an unspecified number of local Habitat for Humanity affiliate organizations over the terms of their cooperation agreement. These local affiliates contended that the agreement gave the international organization too much power over the assets and operations of the local chapters. One of the affiliates, Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio, reached an agreement with HFHI in July 2008 to “continue working together in their efforts to make affordable housing possible.”[27]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. Millard Fuller - Founder
    Habitat for Humanity International - Habitat for Humanity Int'l
  2. Habitat for Humanity Reaches Milestone 50,000th House Mark in US/Latin America Service Area. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
  3. Meet Habitat for Humanity's New Chief Executive Officer:
    Jonathan Reckford, Pastor and Veteran Business Leader - Habitat for Humanity Int'l
  4. SWITCHFOOT SWAPS BAND INSTRUMENTS FOR BUILDING TOOLS, RAISES OVER $100,000 FOR HABITAT FOR HUMANITY - published December 17, 2007 (retrieved March 20, 2008)
  5. Habitat builds 300,000th house
  6. Sections 4.1 and 5.7, policy 24, schedule G, Habitat for Humanity U.S. Affiliated Organization Policy Handbook.
  7. International Finance Manual, Habitat for Humanity International (2005), Chapter 14, Page 1
  8. New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity continues to build
  9. Collegiate Challenge Habitat for Humanity International Web page
  10. International Trips Fact Sheet - Habitat for Humanity Int'l
  11. PG&E Solar Project
  12. San Francisco Solar
  13. Solar Fund Raising Effort
  14. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project - Habitat for Humanity Int'l
  15. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project 2008 - The Gulf Coast - Habitat for Humanity Int'l
  16. Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project Mekong Build 2009
  17. Women Build Frequently Asked Questions - Habitat for Humanity Int'l
  18. Habitat ReStores
  19. 19.0 19.1 Jimmy Carter's Favorite Charity
  20. Habitat for Humanity Fact Sheet -- Habitat for Humanity International
  21. Habitat for Humanity Dominican Republic--Habitat for Humanity InternationalHabitat for Humanity Mexico--Habitat for Humanity InternationalHabitat for Humanity Paraguay--Habitat for Humanity International
  22. Poverty Guidelines, Research, and Measurement: Home Page
  23. Habitat for Humanity Fact Sheet - Habitat for Humanity Int'l
  24. Habitat for Humanity president terminated--Habitat for Humanity International
  25. Questions Follow Fuller's Firing from Habitat for Humanity | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction
  26. Harassment Claims Roil Habitat for Humanity
  27. Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio reach agreement to continue affordable housing partnership

External links Edit

fr:Habitat for Humanity International ko:해비타트 운동 pl:Habitat for Humanity vi:Tổ chức Hỗ trợ Gia cư Habitat zh:國際仁人家園

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