Myths & Truths
Myth: Habitat for Humanity gives houses to poor people.
Truth: Houses are not given to anyone. Habitat for Humanity builds houses with those in need and then sells the houses to homeowner partners. Because of Habitat’s no-profit, no-interest loans, and because houses are built principally by volunteers, mortgage payments are affordable for those unable to obtain conventional financing for a home. Habitat homeowners typically earn incomes that are 30-50 percent of the median income in the area. They are required to invest an average 300-500 hours of “sweat equity”— time spent building their own home or other Habitat homes.
Myth: Habitat homeowners are on welfare.
Truth: While some do receive public assistance, most homeowners work at low-wage jobs. Habitat for Humanity works in good faith with people who often are at risk in society. We know that owning a home is not the answer to every problem, but can be an important step — and often the first step — toward helping people break out of the cycle of poverty.
Myth: You have to be a Christian to become a Habitat homeowner.
Truth: Habitat for Humanity was founded as a Christian ministry. Homeowners are chosen without regard to creed, however, in keeping with legal requirements and with Habitat’s belief that God’s love extends to all regardless of race, creed or nationality. We also welcome volunteers from all faiths or no faith who can actively embrace Habitat’s goal of eliminating poverty housing from the world.
Myth: Habitat homeowners sell their houses and make a large profit because of the original low cost.
Truth: Habitat Founder and President Millard Fuller addresses this issue in A Simple, Decent Place To Live: The Building Realization of Habitat for Humanity (Word Publishing, 1995):
“In the two decades of Habitat for Humanity … we have had no history of people selling their houses. Why? Because it’s so hard for these families to get the houses in the first place. It’s like an impossible dream come true. The fact that they can make a profit is not even an issue because they realize that if they sell it they won’t have a house anymore. And they wouldn’t be able to make payments the way the world would demand on a new one, since the bank or someone else attempting to make a big profit would now be the lender.”
Special second mortgages that are “paid off” by living in the house, as well first buy-back option clauses that many affiliates put into their agreement with homeowners, also help alleviate concerns that some people may have regarding the resale of houses
Myth: Habitat houses lower neighborhood property values.
Truth: Many studies of low-cost housing show that affordable housing has no adverse effect on other neighborhood property values, In fact, Habitat for Humanity believes its approach to affordable housing can improve neighborhoods and communities by strengthening community spirit; increasing the tax base; and building better citizens through the cooperative efforts involved in Habitat construction
Myth: Habitat for Humanity has chapters in every state throughout the world.
Truth: Habitat operates through locally run affiliates, rather than through chapters controlled by the broader organization. Affiliates are grass-roots organizations of local people coming together to address local needs. As such, the affiliates are independent, nonprofit organizations that operate within specific service areas in a covenant relationship with Habitat for Humanity International.
Myth: Habitat for Humanity builds only in cities (or) Habitat for Humanity builds only in rural areas.
Truth: Habitat – through local affiliates – is at work in large cities and small; in suburbs and rural areas; in highly developed countries and in those with emerging economies. Because poverty housing is so widespread, Habitat’s work goes on 365 days a year in hundreds upon hundreds of locations throughout the United States and around the globe. A Habitat house is built somewhere in the world about every 45 minutes.
Myth: Poverty housing is such a large problem that it can never be solved.
Truth: Poverty housing is a huge issue. But Habitat believes that by continuing to build houses with those in need, by working with other committed groups, and by putting the issue of poverty housing on the hearts and minds of compassionate people everywhere, the problem can be solved.