Gloves that say "every hand makes a difference."

Common questions about Habitat for Humanity

You may have heard of Habitat for Humanity, but how much do you really know about us? Here are answers to some of the questions we hear most.

Are Habitat for Humanity houses free?

No. Families who are in need of decent, affordable housing apply locally to Habitat for Humanity for homeownership. Their ability to repay an affordable mortgage or small loan, as well as their level of housing need and willingness to partner with Habitat, are among the selection criteria for becoming a Habitat homeowner.

Future homeowners receive financial education and complete several hundred hours of sweat equity working alongside volunteers. Sweat equity can take the form of building their own and other Habitat homes, providing retail assistance at a local Habitat ReStore, or performing important tasks at their local Habitat office.

Learn more about what it takes to become a Habitat homeowner.

Did former U.S. President Jimmy Carter start Habitat for Humanity?

While President and Mrs. Carter are Habitat’s most famous volunteers and have worked tirelessly since 1984 to help families build houses and to raise awareness of the need for affordable housing, Habitat was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976.

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. There in the early ’70s, Jordan and the Fullers developed “partnership housing.” The idea centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build decent, affordable houses at no profit. To build more homes, new homeowners’ house payments would be combined with no-interest loans provided by supporters and money earned by fundraising.

In 1973, the Fullers took the concept to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and launched a successful house-building program. After three years, they returned to the United States and founded Habitat for Humanity International.

Learn more about Habitat’s history.

Does Habitat for Humanity only build houses?

Habitat is committed to ensuring that everyone, everywhere, has a decent place to live. To that end, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We help families build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter in a variety of ways.

  • Habitat does build new homes. We also work alongside families to rehabilitate and preserve existing homes needing repairs, and we partner with older homeowners to make the changes they need in order to grow old safely in their homes.
  • Our neighborhood revitalization work in the U.S. seeks to transform communities into vibrant, safe places to live for current and future residents. Habitat works locally in coalition with neighborhood residents and partners to improve quality of life through an integrated, collaborative approach to community development.
  • Most of the world’s people acquire shelter incrementally, building homes step by step as their families grow and as their limited finances allow. The great majority of families in countries where Habitat for Humanity works have no access to formal-sector housing options, such as traditional mortgage products or developer-built housing. Our housing microfinance efforts help fill that enormous gap by empowering people to build better, more durable homes through a combination of capital and housing support services. Through the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, we are able to support local firms and expand innova­tive and client-responsive services, products and financing so that households can improve their shelter more effectively and efficiently.
  • Habitat actively mobilizes volunteers to promote decent, affordable housing and advocates for additional access to safe and affordable housing. Our advocacy work has the proven ability to change laws and shape the policies and systems that affect that access.
  • Habitat ReStores are an important arm of our work. These home improvement stores sell to the public new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and other items. Individuals and companies support ReStores by donating or buying items. Proceeds go to support Habitat’s mission in the local community and around the world.

Lean more about how Habitat works toward our vision of a world where every single person has a decent place to live.

Does Habitat for Humanity only build locally?

Habitat builds in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. We also work in more than 70 countries worldwide. Learn more about all of the places where we work.

Can only Christians apply for Habitat homes? Can only Christians volunteer and work with Habitat?

Habitat is a global nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. While our mission is inspired by Christian teachings, all who desire to be a part of our work are welcome — without regard to religious preference or background.

Do I have to have construction skills to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity?

We welcome people with any skill level to volunteer with us on the build site, even beginners. On-site construction leaders train volunteers in all aspects of building. You do have to be at least 16 years old to work on a Habitat construction site.

You can also volunteer and participate in a variety of other ways, from becoming an advocate to helping out in one of our ReStores. Check out all of the ways you can support Habitat’s work.

Does Habitat need donations?

Yes, Habitat for Humanity needs donations to advance our work, and we appreciate your financial support.

Thanks to the support of people like you we are able to help millions of people each year as they create strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. It will take all of us doing whatever we can to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.