Habitat’s Frequently Asked Questions

By Cathy Partridge, Habitat for Humanity International’s partner service center supervisor

Every day in the Habitat for Humanity Partner Service Center, we receive hundreds of calls from around the world, most of them asking questions on a variety of topics. To give you an idea, here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Habitat and our work, as well as links to more information. We hope these answers are helpful to any of you who might have wondered about some of the same things — and even if you haven’t, we hope you learn something new!

Are you a religious organization? What religion?
Yes. We are an ecumenical Christian housing ministry. This means we invite people of all beliefs, races and backgrounds to be a part of our mission as homeowners, volunteers, staff and donors. Learn more.

Does Habitat only give houses to Christians?
Habitat follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection. Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing partner families. Partner families are always selected based on their level of need, ability to pay and willingness to partner. Learn how to apply for a house.

Can a non-religious or atheist person volunteer?
Absolutely! Habitat provides an opportunity for all people to put their concern for others into action. We bring diverse groups of people together to make affordable housing and better communities a reality for everyone. Find out about volunteer opportunities.

How do you decide who will receive the homes Habitat builds?
Decisions regarding who will be approved for a home mortgage with Habitat are based on three criteria:

  • The family’s ability to repay a no-profit mortgage.
  • The family’s need for safe, decent affordable housing.
  • The family’s willingness to partner with their local affiliate.

Do recipients of Habitat homes pay a mortgage or do they get the home for free?
The families who qualify to partner with their local Habitat affiliate agree to pay a 20- to 30-year no-profit mortgage.

Do you only build new homes? What about homeowners needing assistance with repairs?
Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. With the recent housing crisis and availability of vacant homes, many Habitat affiliates are doing more home rehabilitations, including owner-occupied critical repairs, weatherization and exterior home preservation services for homeowners in need. For additional information, please contact your local Habitat affiliate.

What percentage of my donation goes to administrative and fundraising?
In fiscal year 2012, Habitat for Humanity International spent:

  • $277.3 million on program expense, representing 84 percent of total expense.
  • $38.3 million on fundraising, representing 12 percent of total expense.
  • $14 million on management and general expense, representing 4 percent of total expense.

Review Habitat for Humanity International’s annual reports and 990 forms.

Former President Jimmy Carter started Habitat, right?
Actually, Habitat was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. Learn more about the history of Habitat.