What is Habitat for Humanity?
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty housing. Habitat is founded on the conviction that every person deserves a simple, decent and affordable place to live.
Habitat for Humanity’s policy is to build with people in need regardless of race or religion, and we welcome volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds.
Habitat’s methods are derived from a few key theological concepts: the necessity of putting faith into action, the “economics of Jesus” and the “theology of the hammer.”
How Does Habitat Work?
Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of the partner families. Habitat homes are sold to partner families at no profit, financed with affordable, no-interest loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are used to build more Habitat houses.
Habitat is Building Simple, Decent and Affordable Homes
Habitat is not a giveaway program.
In addition to a down payment and the monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest their own labor — sweat equity — into building their Habitat house and the homes of others. Families are required to put in between in 325 and 375 sweat equity hours. Each family must also attend educational courses on how to maintain a home, landscaping, budgeting, how to be a good neighbor and insurance.
The combination of holding down construction expense with volunteer labor and the 0% interest on a mortgage is what makes these homes affordable. Including property taxes and insurance, the Habitat homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment is no more than 25 percent of their gross income.
For 25 years, Habitat has built and sold homes to 200 working, low income individuals/families. HFHDC also assists other city and county agencies to provide low income housing and remodeling assistance.
As land and real estate taxes escalated in the 1990s, HFHDC expanded from providing housing for 1-2 families per year to 8-12 families per year. HFHDC began renovating existing apartments and creating modest condominium homes.
In late 1995, an ambitious four-year project began: the purchase and renovation of eight apartment buildings in the troubled Eric Circle Neighborhood in the Town of Madison. In 1998, the Eric Circle Project had been renamed by the new Habitat homeowners to Harmony Park, reflecting the new spirit of community and cooperation. In early 2000, the last four families moved into their new condominium homes and completed the new neighborhood of 27 families and the permanent site of our Habitat office.
Habitat for Humanity of Dane County launched an equally ambitious project in 2002 with the purchase of a 40-acre site on the east side of Madison to develop a mixed-income neighborhood called Twin Oaks. Habitat retained 50 sites and sold the remaining to a range of for-profit and nonprofit builders. Habitat later purchased two more lots. Thanks to a capital campaign that raised more than $4 million from companies, churches, foundations and individuals, Habitat has partnered with more than 52 families to build homes in Twin Oaks. The last two homes in the site were completed in the spring 2011.
Habitat is currently building in Fitchburg, Middleton, Brooklyn, Verona and Madison. Habitat has built in the communities of Oregon, Deerfield, Monona, Mazomanie, Mt. Vernon, Windsor, Stoughton and Mt Horeb. Habitat for Humanity of Dane County continues to look for ways to work with more families to attain the dream of homeownership, including the re-development of existing multi-family homes using the Harmony Park model.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10