Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit Christian organization devoted to provide low-income families around the world with decent and affordable houses. It is operating in more than 100 countries and already built over 260,000 houses. Founder Millard Fuller spearheaded the organization in 1976 and ever since it has taken steps in eliminating poverty housing. Fuller received numerous awards for his leadership in solving the global housing crisis. This paper examines the organization, its structure, finances, history and impact in every family that has been the recipients of Habitat houses.
Habitat displays a different kind of mission by strengthening the spirit of volunteerism. Materials for this research come mainly from annual reports, books, case studies, and the organization’s official website. For 32 years now, Habitat has given millions of people brighter hope and blueprint for a better future. Introduction With rapid economic growth and industrialization around the world, it is ironic that millions of people still do not have permanent homes. The United Nations reported that some 1.
6 billion people live in very low standard housing or slums while 100 million others have become homeless displaced by poverty, war, and natural disasters. International statistics show that the number is said to increase to 3 billion within 30 years, a scenario that presents a global housing crisis. In the United States, 95 million Americans experience housing problems where most of their income goes to housing needs. In its 2007 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the U. S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development cited that at least 400,000 Americans are homeless in a given day living in shelters or transitional housing. In addition, a study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimated that at least 3. 5 million people are likely to become homeless in a year. However in a first national study on homelessness by the National Alliance to End Homelessness showed that the number of homeless people in America has reached over 700,000 wherein 44 percent were unsheltered.
It is within this context that Habitat for Humanity was created to give ordinary people around the world a better future, a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live (HFH-Great Britain, 2007, p. 2). As an international non-profit organization, Habitat spreads Christianity through building affordable and sustainable houses. Since its foundation in 1976, Habitat has constructed over 260,000 houses in 100 countries sheltering over a million people in more than 3,000 communities across the globe. In addition, it has rebuilt and repaired 11,716 homes damaged by natural disasters.
In every 24 minutes, it is said that a Habitat house is completed somewhere in the world. Through the spirit of volunteerism and donations, Habitat has accomplished so much in trying to eliminate homelessness. It has received numerous recognitions for its mission including the Harry S. Truman Public Service Award in 1994 and the 1997 4th largest homebuilder in the world and America’s No. 1 non-profit builder. Founder Millard Fuller was accorded in 1996 the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award and also the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award.
In 1999, he was named the most influential homebuilder of the 20th century by Builder Magazine. The organization is widely supported by various governments, churches, community groups, companies, and individuals. Well known personalities and celebrities have lend their hands in promoting the mission/vision of Habitat. In 1984, former US President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalyn joined Habitat through the Jimmy Carter Work Project. The presence of Carter has given Habitat the much needed attention and visibility in carrying out its works across the globe.
In 2005, Fuller was replaced as Chief Executive Officer by Jonathan Reckford due to unsettled disputes. He and his wife founded a new organization called the Fuller Center for Housing. For Fuller, the housing crisis can be resolved. This is not an impossible problem, this is a solvable problem. We have the money, we have the know-how: all that’s lacking is the will to do something about it (Goodrich, 2005, p. 2). History The story of Habitat has a humble beginning in southern Georgia when Millard and wife Linda transferred in 1965 to Koinonia Farm, a small Christian farming community.
The couple established strong partnership with the farm’s founder and Pastor Clarence Jordan in giving the community, particularly those low-income families, affordable houses through a non-profit, no interest system. Millard called this financing scheme “the economics of Jesus”. In 1968, a 42 half-acre land was laid out for the housing project in Koinonia. Expenses for the constructions were coursed through a revolving Fund for Humanity, donations, and fund raising activities. To reduce costs, family beneficiaries provided labor in building their own houses as well as from other volunteers.
At this stage, the concept for Habitat for Humanity was born and the first Habitat house model was built. As the news of its positive outcome grew, more money poured in for the project from across the country. Seeing that the idea was very successful, the Fuller tried to replicate the project in developing countries. The couple went in 1973 to Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they implemented the project building 80 houses for 2,000 people. After three years, they returned to the United States to set up an organization that would cater to the housing needs of low-income American families.
The Fuller were convinced that their concept could be practiced anywhere in the world. Together with some close associates, they instituted Habitat for Humanity International whose mission is to work in partnership with God and people everywhere, from all walks of life, to develop communities with God’s people in need by building and renovating houses, so that there are decent houses in decent communities in which people can live and grow into all the God intended (Kwock, Gordon, & Payumo, 2003, p.
3). For 29 years, the Fuller led the organization into a phenomenal growth that made the organization a household name and became one of the most trusted brands in America. It has sparked nationwide interests, attracted volunteers everywhere, and developed strategic alliances from all sectors of society. Today, it has more than 2,300 local affiliates worldwide in charge of house constructions, raising funds, and screening beneficiaries.
Habitat’s housing ministry is guided by the following principles: demonstrate the love and teachings of Jesus Christ, advocate on behalf of those who need shelter, focus on shelter by building and renovating simple, decent and affordable houses, engage the broader community through inclusive leadership and diverse partnerships, promote dignity through full partnership with Habitat homeowners and future homeowners, and promote transformational and sustainable community development. (HFH, 2008, ¶1). The Founder
Born in January 3, 1936 in Lanett, Alabama, Millard Fuller was a self-made man becoming a millionaire at the age of 29. He graduated with a law degree at the University of Alabama and became a successful entrepreneur. He had lived a very prosperous lifestyle. However, his preoccupation with work has led him to reevaluate his life as his achievements have taken its toll on his health and nearly ruined his marriage. He took drastic measures to change his values and directions by renewing his Christian faith.
With wife Linda, the couple sold their possessions giving some of their money to the poor and began searching for a new beginning. Their quest for a new life has led them to the Koinonia Farm. The vision of the Fuller has kept Habitat strong throughout its existence. The organization has expanded from a mere homebuilder becoming a leader of housing initiatives such as the Campus Chapter and Youth Programs, Global Village Work Camps, Summer County Initiative, Global Village and Discovery Center, and the Habitat University.
The Fuller shared some of their success stories in the many books they have written that included Love in the Mortar Joints, No More Shacks, the Theology of the Hammer, the Excitement is Building, A Simple, Decent Place to Live: The Building Realization of Habitat for Humanity, More Than Houses: How Habitat for Humanity Is Transforming Lives and Neighborhoods, Bokotola, and Building Materials for Life, Volumes 1 to 3. Furthermore, Millard Fuller received several achievement awards and over 50 honorary doctorate degrees for taking the lead in fighting poverty housing.