The idea that became Habitat for Humanity first grew from the fertile soil of Koinonia Farm, a community farm outside of Americus, Georgia, founded by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan.
On the farm, Jordan and Habitat’s eventual founders Millard and Linda Fuller developed the concept of “partnership housing.” The concept centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build decent, affordable houses. The houses would be built at no profit. New homeowners’ house payments would be combined with no-interest loans provided by supporters and money earned by fundraising to create “The Fund for Humanity,” which would then be used to build more homes.
Beau and Emma were the owners of the first home built by Koinonia’s Partnership Housing Program. They and their five children moved into a concrete-block home with a modern kitchen, indoor bathroom and heating system, replacing the unpainted, uninsulated shack with no plumbing where they had previously lived.
In 1973, the Fullers decided to take the Fund for Humanity concept to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. After three years of hard work to launch a successful house building program there, the Fullers then returned to the United States and called together a group of supporters to discuss the future of their dream: Habitat for Humanity International, founded in 1976.
The times have changed, the build site locations have grown in number, but the very real change that Beau and Emma’s family experienced is shared by families today who partner with Habitat to build or improve a place they can call home. Thanks in no small part to the personal involvement of U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn and the awareness they have raised, Habitat now works in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in approximately 70 countries and has helped more than 13 million people achieve strength, stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable shelter.