Habitat for Humanity is an often-misunderstood organization. How is it funded? Who purchases the homes we build? How does it affect my community? And how does Jimmy Carter fit in? We hope to address many of the myths and deliver the facts here.

Myth: Habitat for Humanity gives houses away to poor people.

Truth: Habitat for Humanity offers a homeownership opportunity to families unable to obtain conventional house financing — generally, those whose income is 50 percent or less of the area's median income. Partner homeowner families contribute a minimum of 250 hours of sweat equity into the construction of their homes or another Spencer County Habitat for Humanity home or activity and pay a monthly mortgage. Because Habitat houses are built using volunteers and many donations, mortgage payments are more affordable. Habitat for Humanity is both a builder and a mortgage company. All applicants who qualify for a home must have a steady source of income, from working and/or non-working sources, and must repay a 25-year mortgage with on-time, in-full payments each and every month.

Myth: Habitat houses reduce property values in a neighborhood.

Truth: Low-cost housing studies in the United States and Canada show affordable housing has no adverse effect on other neighborhood property values. In fact, Habitat houses have increased property values and local government tax income in neighborhoods where they are built.

Myth: Only African Americans get Habitat for Humanity homes.

Truth: Habitat builds houses in partnership with those in need — regardless of race, religion, or ethnic group. Criteria for homeownership can be found on the Own a Home page.

Myth: Habitat for Humanity International dictates all policy and practices for every local Habitat organization.

Truth: Habitat operates through locally governed affiliates with a strong emphasis on grassroots organizations and local autonomy. Habitat affiliates are independent, non-profit organizations that operate within specific service areas in a covenant relationship with Habitat for Humanity International.

Myth: Habitat homeowners are on welfare.

Truth: Some, but not all, Habitat homeowners receive income from a government entity. All homebuyers must meet income requirements in order to be considered potential partner families.

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

Truth: Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organization. However, homeowners are chosen without regard to race, religion, or ethnic group in keeping with U.S. law and with Habitat's abiding belief that God's love extends to everyone. Habitat also welcomes volunteers from all faiths or no faith who actively embrace Habitat's goal of eliminating poverty housing from the world.

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

Truth: Habitat is an ecumenical Christian housing organization. It is neither an arm of the government nor an arm of any particular church or denomination.

Myth: Habitat for Humanity was founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Truth: Habitat was started in 1976 in Americus, GA by Millard Fuller along with his wife, Linda. President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn (whose home is eight miles from Americus, in Plains, GA), have been long-time Habitat supporters and volunteers who helped bring national attention to the organization's house-building work. Each year they lead the Jimmy Carter Work Project to help build houses and raise awareness of the need for affordable housing.

Myth: Habitat houses allow people to move from poverty to plush new houses.

Truth: Any new house is going to be a dramatic change for a family that has been living in sub-standard conditions. But Habitat houses are not extravagant by any standard. Habitat’s philosophy is to build simple, decent homes. Generally speaking, Spencer County Habitat for Humanity homes range from approximately 1,000 square feet to 1,400 square feet in size. Houses usually have three or four bedrooms and one or two bathrooms. There are no garages, carports or basements.

Myth: Sub-standard housing is such a large problem that it can never be solved.

Truth: Sub-standard housing is a huge issue. But Habitat believes that by continuing to build and renovate houses for those in need, working with other committed groups and the partner families, and raising the issue of housing in the hearts and minds of compassionate people everywhere, the problem can be solved.