785 E Main Street
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Phone 269-925-9635


FAQ

Are Habitat Homes Free to Partner Families?
Habitat for Humanity does not give away homes. Habitat builds houses with those in need and then sells the houses to homeowner partners. Because of Habitat's no-profit, no-interest loans, and because houses are built principally by volunteers, mortgage payments can be kept reasonable. Habitat homeowners typically have an income that is 30-60% of the area median income (AMI) in Berrien County. Partner Families are required to invest 300 "sweat equity" hours into building their home with Habitat.

Do you have to be Christian to be a Habitat homeowner?
Habitat for Humanity was founded as and remains a Christian ministry. However, homeowners are chosen according to the requirements of the fair housing laws and the belief that God's love extends to all -regardless of race, marital status, creed, age and nationality. We also welcome volunteers from all faiths or no faith - who can actively embrace Habitat's ministry to eliminate poverty housing around the world.

Did Jimmy Carter start Habitat?
No. Habitat was started in Americus, Georgia, in 1976 by Millard Fuller and Linda Fuller. Former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn live in Plains, GA, just eight miles from Americus. The Carters are longtime Habitat supporters and volunteers who help bring national and international recognition to Habitat for Humanity. They annually lead the Jimmy Carter Work Project, which has built more than 1,000 houses.

Can Habitat homeowners sell their Habitat home to make a profit?
Special second mortgages that are "paid off" by people living in the house, as well as first buy-back option clauses that many affiliates put into their agreement with homeowners help alleviate concerns that some people may have regarding the resale of houses.

Is Habitat supported by the government?
Habitat for Humanity International is an independent, nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. It is not an arm of the government, nor an arm of any particular church denomination. Habitat does not accept government funds for the construction of homes; however, Habitat may accept government funds for the acquisition of land or houses in need of rehabilitation. Habitat also accepts government funds for streets, utilities, and administration expenses, so long as the funds have no strings attached that would limit its ability to build each Habitat house as a demonstration of God's love.

What kind of homes does Habitat Build?
Habitat for Humanity stresses that we build "simple, decent, affordable housing". The typical home is 1,050-1,250 square feet with three and four bedroom designs, all of which have one bathroom and no garage. Houses cost approximately $80,000, with payment over 20-25 years at 0% interest. Monthly payments contribute toward a "Fund for Humanity," in which the payments of current Partner Families help to underwrite the construction of future Partner Families homes. We build houses to high Energy Star standards; as of summer 2009 all homes are built to Green Built Michigan standards.

Where do you build Habitat Homes?
The Board of Directors determine a long-term strategy to not only help individual families, but to redevelop neighborhoods and eventually create an environment to revitalize the community.

Habitat talks about Partnership, what does that mean?
Habitat for Humanity is different from most social works in that it requires participants to have a willingness to "Partner". Each Partner Family must spend a significant amount of time devoted to "sweat equity", in addition to making reasonable payments toward the closing costs for their home. Finally, they pay for their home by payments that they can afford which go toward helping other families build homes. We believe that only grassroots partnerships between the local community and those in need can make a lasting difference and a change in our neighborhoods.

What is the Fund for Humanity?
A dollar donated to Harbor Habitat never goes away. Donated funds help us to build houses at no profit and with no interest. Each month our Partner Families pay their mortgages which helps us to build more houses. A donation to Harbor Habitat of your time, talents and/or resources is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Does Harbor Habitat tithe any of the donations they receive?
Harbor Habitat gives 10% of all unrestricted donations back to God and our ministry to help eliminate poverty housing and homelessness. To date our tithes have built over 5,000 homes in Mexico, India and currently in Lesotho Africa. Tithing within Habitat — a global organization that seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the face of the earth — ensures that funding reaches the countries that have both a Habitat presence and some of the greatest need.

*This information is taken in part from the Habitat for Humanity International publication Myths and Truths.