Myths and Truths

MYTH: Habitat for Humanity gives houses to poor people.

TRUTH: Houses are not given to anyone. Habitat for Humanity builds houses with people in need and then sells the homes to homeowner partners through no-profit loans. Because homes are built principally by volunteers, mortgage payments are reasonable for families unable to obtain conventional financing.


MYTH: Habitat builds houses only for minorities.

TRUTH: Habitat doesn't build houses for anyone. We build houses with people in need, without regard to race or religion. Three criteria drive the family-selection process: need, ability to repay the no-profit mortgage during a 15- to -30 year period, and willingness to partner with Habitat.


The U.S. Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in the sale of housing on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, handicap familial status or national origin. It is the official policy of Alachua Habitat for Humanity that Habitat homeowner families are selected according to criteria that do not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, age, handicap, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, family status or marital status, or because all or part of income is derived from any public assistance program.


MYTH: You have to be a Christian to become a Habitat homeowner.

TRUTH: Habitat for Humanity was founded as, and continues to be, a Christian ministry. However, homeowners are chosen without regard to race, creed or nationality – following the requirements of the law as well as Habitat's belief that God's love extends to all. Habitat also welcomes volunteers from all faiths – or no faith – who actively embrace the goals of eliminating poverty housing from the world.


MYTH: Habitat houses allow people to move from poverty to fancy new houses.

TRUTH: Any newly built house if going to be a dramatic change for a family that has been living in a shack, hut, or run-down apartment, but Habitat houses are not extravagant by any standard. Habitat's philosophy is to build simple, decent homes.


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. Habitat's approach to affordable housing improves neighborhoods and communities by strengthening community spirit and increasing the tax base while building better citizens through cooperative efforts involved in Habitat construction.


MYTH: Habitat for Humanity is a Southern poverty program.

TRUTH: What has become the international ministry called Habitat for Humanity started with a hand-full of people building with families in southwest Georgia and Zaire. Today, Habitat for Humanity has headquarters in Americus and Atlanta, Georgia along with an office in Washington, D.C., and area offices in Pretoria, South Africa; San Jose, Costa Rica; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Bangkok, Thailand. These area offices serve local affiliates and national offices, which are at work in 90 countries and in every state in the United States.


MYTH: Habitat for Humanity is an arm of the government.

TRUTH: Habitat for Humanity International is an independent, non-profit Christian housing ministry. It is not an arm of the government, nor an arm of any particular church denomination. Habitat does accept government funds so long as those funds do not affect Habitat's ability to proclaim its Christian witness.


MYTH: Habitat for Humanity was started by former U.S President Jimmy Carter.

TRUTH: Habitat for Humanity International was started in Americus, Georgina, in 1976 by the late Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, are longtime Habitat supporters and volunteers who help bring national and international attention to the organization's house-building work. They lead the annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project to help build houses and raise awareness of the need for affordable housing.


MYTH: Habitat for Humanity operates through chapters in states and countries throughout the world.

TRUTH: Habitat does not operate through centrally controlled chapters but through locally run affiliates. Affiliates are grassroots organizations of local people coming together to address local housing needs. Each affiliate is an independent nonprofit organization that operates within specific service areas under a covenant relationship with Habitat for Humanity International.


MYTH: Habitat for Humanity builds only in cities – or only in rural areas.

TRUTH: Habitat – through local affiliates – is at work in cities, suburbs, and rural areas in both highly developed countries and in developing countries. Because poverty housing is so widespread, Habitat's work goes on 365 days a year in locations throughout the United States and around the world.


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 and repair houses with people 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.