Myth: Habitat for Humanity gives houses away to poor people
Fact: Habitat for Humanity offers a homeownership opportunity to families unable to obtain conventional mortgage financing – generally, those whose income is 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income. In most cases, prospective Habitat homeowner families must pay their closing costs and contribute 400 hours of “sweat equity” on the construction of their home or someone else’s home. Because Habitat houses are built using donations of land, material and labor, mortgage payments are kept affordable.
Myth: Habitat houses reduce property values in a neighborhood
Fact: Low-cost housing studies in the United States and Canada show affordable housing has no adverse effect on other neighborhood property values. In fact, Habitat houses have increased property values and local government tax income.
Myth: Habitat builds houses only for minorities
Fact: Habitat builds houses in partnership with families in need – regardless of race, religion or any other difference – who meet three criteria: need, willingness to partner; and the ability to repay the no-interest, no-profit mortgage.
Myth: You have to be Christian to become a Habitat homeowner
Fact: Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organization. However, homeowners are chosen without regard to race, religion or ethnic group. Habitat also welcomes volunteers from all faiths, or no faith, who actively embrace Habitat’s goal of eliminating poverty housing.
Myth: Habitat houses allow people to move from poverty to fancy new houses
Fact: Any newly built house is going to be a dramatic change for a family that has been living in sub-standard poverty housing. But Habitat houses are not extravagant by any standard. Habitat’s philosophy is to build simple, decent, affordable homes.
Myth: Habitat for Humanity was founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
Fact: Habitat was started in 1976 in Americus, Ga., by Millard Fuller along with his wife Linda. President Carter and his wife Rosalynn (whose home is eight miles from Americus, in Plains, Ga.), have been longtime Habitat supporters and volunteers who help bring national attention to the organization’s house-building work. Each year, they lead the Jimmy Carter Work Project to help build houses and raise awareness of the need for affordable housing.