Myth: Habitat for Humanity gives houses away to poor people.
Truth: Houses are not given to anyone. Habitat for Humanity offers homeownership opportunities to families who are unable to obtain conventional house financing. Generally, this includes those whose income is 30 to 50 percent of the area’s median income. In most cases, prospective Habitat homeowner families make at least a $700 down payment. Additionally, they contribute 250 to 500 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 a neighborhood’s property values.
Truth: Housing studies show affordable housing has no adverse effect on neighborhood property values. In fact, Habitat houses have proven to increase property values and local government tax income. Habitat firmly believes its approach to affordable housing improves neighborhoods and communities by strengthening community spirit and increasing tax base while building better citizens through the cooperative efforts involved in Habitat construction.
Myth: Habitat builds houses only for minorities.
Truth: Habitat doesn’t build houses for anyone. We build houses with people in need regardless of race, religion or any other difference. Prospective homeowners must meet three criteria: need; ability to repay the mortgage; and a willingness to partner with Habitat. Statistically, 33 percent of Habitat homeowners are Anglo and 67 percent are people of color.
Myth: Habitat homeowners are on welfare.
Truth: While some Habitat homeowners receive Transitional Assistance for Families with Dependent Children, it is part of the reliable income needed from allowable sources. Most work at low-wage jobs, show a steady work history, and the income necessary to pay the mortgage they will acquire. They buy the house from Habitat. Typically their annual income is less than half the local median income in their community. Habitat works in good faith with people who often are at risk in society, knowing that owning a home is not the answer to every problem, but that it can be an important step – often the first step – toward helping people break out of the cycle of poverty.
Myth: You have to be Christian to become a Habitat homeowner.
Truth: Habitat homeowners are chosen without regard to race, religion or ethnic group, in keeping with U.S. law and with Habitat’s abiding belief that God’s love extends to everyone. Habitat also welcomes volunteers from all faiths, or no faith, who actively embrace Habitat’s goal of eliminating poverty housing from the world.
Myth: Habitat for Humanity International dictates policy and practices for every local Habitat organization.
Truth: Local Habitat affiliates are independent, nonprofit organizations that operate within a specific service area within the framework of the Habitat Affiliate Covenant.
Myth: Habitat for Humanity is an arm of the government.
Truth: Habitat for Humanity is not an arm of the government, nor an arm of any particular church denomination. Habitat is an independent, nonprofit organization that accepts some government funds and other resources to help provide houses for those in need.
Myth: Habitat for Humanity was founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Truth : Habitat was started in 1976 in Americus, Ga., by the late Millard Fuller and 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.