Facts & Fiction: Habitat for Humanity of Brevard County

Fiction: Habitat gives houses to poor people.

Fact: Houses are not given to anyone. Habitat builds houses with people in need and then sells the houses to homeowner partners through zero interest loans. Because houses are built principally by volunteers, mortgage payments are reasonable for families unable to obtain conventional financing. Habitat homeowners typically have incomes that are between 30% and 80% of the median income in the area. They are required to invest at least 300 hundred hours of sweat equity that is, time spent volunteering in our community, taking homeowner educational classes, building their own home or other Habitat houses.

Fiction: Habitat builds houses only for minorities.

Fact: Habitat doesn't build houses for minorities. We build houses with people in need, without regard to race. Three criteria drive the qualification process: need; ability to pay, and willingness to partner with Habitat. Habitat for Humanity International and the U.S. Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in the sale of housing on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, handicap, familial status or national origin.

Fiction: Habitat homeowners are on welfare.

Fact: While some Habitat homeowners do receive public assistance, most work at low-wage jobs. 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.

Fiction: You have to be a Christian to become a Habitat homeowner.

Fact: Habitat for Humanity was founded as and is a Christian ministry. However, homeowners are chosen without regard to race, creed, or nationality-following the requirements of the law as well as Habitat's belief that God's love extends to all. Habitat welcomes people from all faiths, or no faith, who actively embrace the goal of eliminating poverty housing from the world.

Fiction: Habitat houses allow people to move from poverty to fancy new houses.

Fact: Any newly built house is going to be a dramatic change for a family that has been living in a shack, rundown apartment, or any inadequate dwelling. Habitat's philosophy is to build simple, decent houses with families in need.

Fiction: Habitat houses lower neighborhood property values.

Fact: Many studies of low-cost housing show that affordable housing has no adverse effect on other neighborhood property values. Habitat's approach to affordable housing improves neighborhoods and communities by strengthening community spirit and increasing the tax base while building better citizens through the cooperative efforts involved in Habitat construction.

Fiction: Habitat for Humanity is a Southern poverty program.

Fact: While Habitat serves our local community, Habitat for Humanity International started in the Southern United States and is based in Americus, and Atlanta, Georgia. However, Habitat has headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica; Pretoria, South Africa; Bratislava; Slovakia; and Bangkok, Thailand. Habitat is a global partnership, drawing families in need together with volunteers and resources to build simple, decent houses all over the world. Habitat works in more than 90 countries.

Fiction: Habitat for Humanity is an arm of the government.

Fact: Habitat is an independent, non-profit Christian housing ministry and an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. It is not an arm of the government, nor an arm of any particular church denomination. Habitat does accept government funds so long as those funds do not affect Habitat's ability to proclaim its Christian witness.

Fiction: Habitat for Humanity was started by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Fact: Habitat for Humanity International was started in Americus, Georgia in 1976 by the late Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, are longtime Habitat supporters and volunteers who help bring national and international attention to the organization's house-building work. They lead the annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project to help build houses and raise awareness of the need for affordable housing.

Fiction: Habitat operates through chapters in states and countries throughout the world.

Fact: Habitat is not a chapter of Habitat for Humanity International but an affiliate, a grass-roots organization of local people coming together to address local housing needs. Each Habitat affiliate is an independent non-profit organization that operates within specific service areas under a covenant relationship with Habitat for Humanity International and responsible for raising all of our own funding locally.

Fiction: Habitat builds only in cities or builds in only rural areas.

Fact: Habitat, through local affiliates, is at work in cities, rural areas, and in developing countries. Because poverty housing is so widespread, Habitat's work is throughout the United States and around the world.

Fiction: Poverty housing is such a large problem that it can never be solved.

Fact: Poverty housing is a huge issue here in Brevard County. Habitat believes that through collaboration with community partners, we can create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.