Habitat for Humanity International
Founded1976; 48 years ago (1976)
Americus, Georgia, U.S.
FoundersMillard Fuller
Linda Fuller
TypeNon-profit, interest group, Christian
    • Administrative headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
    • Global/international headquarters: Americus, Georgia, U.S.
Services"Building simple, decent and affordable housing"
FieldsProtecting human rights
Key people
Jonathan Reckford, CEO

Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), generally referred to as Habitat for Humanity or Habitat, is a U.S. non-governmental, and tax-exempt 501(C)(3) Christian nonprofit organization which seeks to build affordable housing.[1] It was founded in 1976 by couple Millard and Linda Fuller. The international operational headquarters are located in Americus, Georgia, United States, with the administrative headquarters located in Atlanta.[2] As of 2023, Habitat for Humanity operates in more than 70 countries.[3]

Habitat for Humanity works to help build and improve homes for families of low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds. Homes are built using volunteer labor, including that of Habitat homeowners through the practice of sweat equity, as well as paid contractors for certain construction or infrastructure activities as needed.[4] Habitat makes no profit from the sales.[2] In some locations outside the United States, Habitat for Humanity charges interest to protect against inflation, a policy that has been in place since 1986.

The organization operates with financial support from national governments, philanthropic foundations, corporations, and mass media companies.[5]


See also: Millard Fuller

Habitat for Humanity traces its origins to the time Linda and Millard Fuller spent at Koinonia Farm in 1965. The couple had a successful business in Montgomery, Alabama before they started a new life of Christian service.[6][non-primary source needed]

In Tempe, Arizona, Habitat for Humanity 3D-printed walls for a house when not enough labor was available.[7]

Ongoing programs

A Brush With Kindness

Habitat for Humanity's A Brush With Kindness is a locally operated program serving low-income homeowners who struggle to maintain the exterior of their homes. The program is a holistic approach to providing affordable housing and assisting communities as well as families. Groups of volunteers help homeowners with exterior maintenance. This typically includes painting, minor exterior repairs, landscaping, weatherization and exterior clean-up.[8]



Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville (called HabiJax), is the largest affiliate of Habitat for Humanity (HFH) in the United States.[9][10] Habijax was named the eighth-largest homebuilder in the United States by Builder magazine for 2009.[11] HabiJax in 2023 marked 35 years of service and has provided homes to over 2,300 families.[12][13]


The HabiJax affiliate was founded in 1988 by nine unnamed representatives from congregations in Jacksonville. Initial funding was secured from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. Their first project was a house donated by the South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church that was moved, setup and rehabilitated for the first HabiJax homeowner family.[14]

The plan

New homes are not the only service that Habijax provides. In targeted neighborhoods, the nonprofit also performs home repairs, weatherization, and rehabilitation for clients, as well as housing counseling. As of 2012, they had helped over 7,500 families.[15]

Local cooperation

The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour has been a supporter since 1994 and their crew works on several homes each year.[13]

Volunteers include U.S. Navy sailors who volunteer when their ship is in port.[9] Every Thursday, between 10 and 20 sailors from the USS Gettysburg (CG-64) would work on a build site, doing whatever needed to be done.[16]

Fairway Oaks

The Jimmy Carter Work Project constructed the Fairway Oaks community of 85 new single-family homes in 17 days.[17] The Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA), together with their building members and 10,000 volunteers[18] were joined by former President Carter and Rosalynn, former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, Habitat founders Linda and Millard Fuller, Jaguars owners Delores and Wayne Weaver and Mayor John Delaney in September, 2000 to complete the project.[17][18]


Some residents of the Fairway Oaks development have subsequently complained of health problems. Some residents argued that part of the development was constructed over a landfill,[19] with one resident finding layers of garbage under his kitchen floorboards. Other residents allege poor construction.[20][21][22] A lawsuit filed against HabiJax and the City of Jacksonville was dismissed[23][24]

However, it was unclear whether the issues are due to lack of maintenance or substandard construction.[24]


In conjunction with Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, HabiJax held Superbuild: constructing 39 houses during the NFL season in 2005. The final home, number 39, was constructed in 39 working hours.[25]


New Town is an historic residential neighborhood in downtown Jacksonville that experienced significant urban decay by the end of the 20th century. In 2008, Jacksonville mayor John Peyton and other parties established the New Town Success Zone, modeled after New York City's Harlem Children's Zone, which provides comprehensive social and educational programs and services to children in the neighborhood.[26][27] In 2012 a completed HabiJax home was furnished and decorated by a local interior designer as a model for the revitalization of the neighborhood. The project, which constructed more than 100 new homes, was completed in 2012.[15]

Tiny houses

Habijax joined the tiny-house movement in mid-2020 with plans for a community of fifty 500–600-square-foot (46–56 m2) homes in the Lackawanna neighborhood on the Westside of Jacksonville.[12] It was funded by a grant from a Delores Barr Weaver charity.[28]

Construction began in January 2021 and the project was expected to be completed in three months. The Northeast Florida Builders Association and their member builders joined Habijax to complete the build. In a change from their Modus operandi, these houses will rented to one or two person households. Jacksonville's affordable housing crisis worsened after the pandemic, with half the city's renters paying more than 50% of monthly income on housing, which should not exceed 30%. CEO of HabiJax Monte Walker explained, "They will come furnished with appliances and internet access as well. So, it's just a different way for us to serve the community in a different kind of structure".[28]


Habitat ReStores are retail outlets that sell new and used building and household materials donated by small businesses, large companies, job sites, contractors and individuals.

In 2008, HabiJax opened a ReStore on Beach Boulevard with inventory from 40 to 70% below retail prices. Proceeds from ReStores help fund the construction of additional houses in the community.[29] With the success of the first ReStore, HabiJax opened a second outlet on 103rd Street. In 2021, the stores had gross sales of $1,904,575.[30]

The 38,000-square-foot (3,500 m2) stores have six full-time employees but rely heavily on volunteers. When donations arrive, volunteers assess them for price and condition, clean, organize and place them in stock.[29] According to the National Habitat for Humanity, many ReStores cover the administrative costs of the Habitat affiliate so that 100% of donor funds can be put toward home construction and rehabilitation projects.

CEO retires

Mary Kay O'Rourke retired in 2020 after 23 years at Habijax and just as the pandemic closed the Habijax office for two years. She started in 1997, as a family selection coordinator, then the manager of family services position became available and she was promoted. A couple of years passed before she became COO. In 2004 she was interim CEO for a year, then named president and CEO. Through the years, she has met nearly every Habijax client—over 2,000 families.[31] O'Rourke helped keep the non-profit financially secure by adopting a "diversified revenue model" which included fundraising campaigns, opening two ReStores to sell home-improvement products and construction materials, mortgage finance products, and now tiny house rentals.[31]

New York City

Habitat for Humanity New York City and Westchester County (Habitat NYC and Westchester) was founded in 1984 as an independent affiliate, serving families across the five boroughs through home construction and preservation, beginning with their first build on the Lower East Side, during the first-ever Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project.[32] This 19-unit building on East 6th Street, the first Habitat building in New York City, was completed in December 1986. In 1995, four different New York City affiliates united to form one affiliate—Habitat NYC. In 2020, the affiliate expanded its work into Westchester, becoming Habitat NYC and Westchester.[33] Karen Haycox was appointed CEO of Habitat NYC and Westchester in August 2015.[34]

Other special initiatives

Habitat Bicycle Challenge

The Habitat Bicycle Challenge (HBC), a nine-week, coast-to-coast bicycle trip undertaken to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven and to increase awareness of Habitat for Humanity in general, took place annually from 1995 to 2007. Prior to embarking in June on the 4,000-mile (6,400 km) trek, participants engaged in a seven-month fundraising campaign for Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven. Once on the road, they served as roaming advertisements for Habitat and gave nightly presentations explaining Habitat's mission to their hosts, usually church congregations. They also took part in builds with local Habitat chapters along the way. At its height, HBC attracted about 90 participants a year, all aged 18 to 24 and about half coming from Yale University. Each rider traveled one of three routes: New Haven to San Francisco, New Haven to Portland, or New Haven to Seattle. By 2004 HBC had become the single largest yearly fundraiser for any Habitat affiliate in the world, raising about $400,000 a year. However, amid growing safety concerns, Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven was forced to announce the cancellation of HBC in September 2007.[35]


Safety of volunteers

Like much construction activity, which carries inherent risk, Habitat for Humanity construction has led to serious injuries or death to some volunteers.[36][37][38][39]


Habitat has been criticized for its slow and inefficient rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.[40]

An article in the Weekly Standard, an American opinion magazine, questioned the cost-effectiveness of Habitat building projects. To estimate cost effectiveness, The Weekly Standard alleged that all costs associated with building a Habitat home must be used, including the cost of volunteer time and training.[41]

Habitat affiliates in the region have remained some of the largest homebuilders in their areas and have received numerous awards and acknowledgements for their work in building quality homes.[42]

Partnering with low-income families

Families are required to show an ability to pay for their home in addition to the need for housing. With these requirements, homeless and low-income families may fail to qualify for a Habitat home. Most American Habitat affiliates perform credit checks and criminal record checks on applicants before partnering with them for the construction of a home. Some critics therefore allege that Habitat misrepresents the nature of its work by partnering with families that might be considered nearly "middle-income".[41] To address this, many Habitat affiliates in the United States partner only with families that fall below the government-set "poverty line" for their area. The current poverty rate is measured according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines.[43]

Ousting of the founder

The Habitat board investigated Millard Fuller for sexual harassment but found "insufficient proof of inappropriate conduct." Some Fuller supporters claim that the firing was due to a change in corporate culture.[44]

Before Fuller's termination, attempts were made by former President Jimmy Carter to broker an agreement that would allow Fuller to retire with his $79,000 salary intact; when Fuller was found to have violated the non-disclosure portion of this agreement, he was subsequently fired, and his wife, Linda was also fired.[45]

See also


  1. ^ "Charity Navigator". www.charitynavigator.org. Retrieved 20 May 2024.
  2. ^ a b "Habitat for Humanity fact sheet". Habitat for Humanity International. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Habitat's history". Habitat for Humanity. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  4. ^ "West Tuality Habitat for Humanity Completes Kidd Court Development, Celebrates Homeowner". West Tuality Habitat for Humanity. Retrieved 24 August 2023.
  5. ^ "Corporate and foundation partners". Habitat for Humanity. 2022. Archived from the original on 21 July 2022. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  6. ^ "Learn more about how Habitat began". Habitat For Humanity. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  7. ^ Davis-Young, Katherine (11 January 2022). "3D printed houses may be the future of the construction industry". NPR. Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  8. ^ "Huntington Police Team with Habitat's Brush of Kindness". Huntington News. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  9. ^ a b "FRCSE Sailors pitch in for community housing at HabiJax". United States Navy. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  10. ^ Spears, Angela. "Habijax Building New Community on the Northside". First Coast News. WTLV-TV. Retrieved 4 January 2006.
  11. ^ Harding, Abel. "Habitat for Humanity now one of nation's ten largest homebuilders". Jacksonville.com. Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  12. ^ a b Patrick, Steve (4 August 2020). "HabiJax to build tiny houses in Lackawanna". News4jax.com. WJXT News4JAX.com. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  13. ^ a b Baldwin, Kerry. "Our Saviour Habijax ministry members give deserving families "a hand up rather than a handout"". Episcopal Church of Our Saviour. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  14. ^ O'Rourke, Mary Kay (29 March 2018). "HabiJax is committed to building both homes and hope". Jacksonville.com. Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  15. ^ a b Cravey, Beth (27 September 2012). "Habijax model home kicks off New Town project Monday". Jacksonville.com. Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  16. ^ "USS Gettysburg Teams Up With HabiJax". Mayport Mirror. 3 August 2006. Archived from the original on 4 November 2006.
  17. ^ a b Schoettler, Jim. "HabiJax volunteers raise walls and hopes". Jacksonville.com. Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 14 September 2001.
  18. ^ a b "Builders recognized for good works". Jacksonville Daily Record. 11 November 2005. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  19. ^ Jackson, Imani J (15 January 2020). "Mold, Foundation Cracks, Sinking Houses: How a Florida Habitat for Humanity Neighborhood Fell Apart". power.buellcenter.columbia.edu. Columbia University. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  20. ^ Goonan, Deborah (16 December 2018). "Lawsuit: HabiJax, City shift blame for problems at Fairway Oaks". independentamericancommunities.com. Independent American Communities. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  21. ^ Leland, John (17 June 2007). "Habitat for Humanity's Homes Faulted in Florida". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  22. ^ Pioneer Press (16 June 2007). "Hard feelings after Habitat 'blitz build'". Twin Cities. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  23. ^ Patterson, Steve. "Judge says lawsuit claiming Fairway Oaks homes built on dump debris was filed too late". Jacksonville.com. Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  24. ^ a b Harlow, John (4 January 2009). "Charity homes built by Hollywood start to crumble". The Times. London. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  25. ^ "SuperBUILD XXXIX - 39 Hour House". jaxdailyrecord.com. Jacksonville Daily Record. 25 January 2005. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  26. ^ Davis, Ennis (7 September 2011). "Urban Neighborhoods: New Town". metrojacksonville.com. Metro Jacksonville. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  27. ^ Crooks, James B. (21 May 2013). "New Town Success Zone Five Years Later". metrojacksonville.com. Metro Jacksonville. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  28. ^ a b Pringle, Lena (26 January 2021). "Small wonders: Construction underway for 1st HabiJax tiny homes project". News4jax.com. WJXT News4JAX.com. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  29. ^ a b Connor, Maria. "HabiJax ReStore offers supply of donated home materials". Jacksonville.com. Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  30. ^ "IRS Form 990" (PDF). pdf.guidestar.org. Candid. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  31. ^ a b Reese-Cravey, Beth. "After 23 'inspirational' years, HabiJax CEO retires to her home 'after helping so many others find theirs'". Jacksonville.com. Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  32. ^ "Our Story". habitatnycwc.org. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  33. ^ "Westchester County". habitatnycwc.org. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  34. ^ Habitat for Humanity (17 August 2015). "Karen Haycox Named CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  35. ^ "Daniel Lewis et al. v. Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven, Inc. et al".
  36. ^ Todd, Jennifer (5 August 2010). "Volunteer dies in accident". LancasterOnline. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  37. ^ "OSHA's reach falls short of nonprofits". The Daily Reporter. 9 September 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  38. ^ "DeVries v. Paterson Habitat for Humanity". Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  39. ^ Rittmeyer, Brian (17 July 2012). "Feds charge owner in worker's death". Total Media. Trib. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  40. ^ Eaton, Leslie; Strom, Stephanie (22 February 2007). "Volunteer Group Lags in Replacing Gulf Houses". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  41. ^ a b Chalk, Philip (13 June 2005). "Jimmy Carter's Favorite Charity". The Weekly Standard. 10 (37). New York: News America Publishing. ISSN 1083-3013. (subscription required)
  42. ^ "Habitat for Humanity builds $90,000 green Miss. gem". USA Today.
  43. ^ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (31 January 2011). "Poverty Guidelines, Research, and Measurement". Department of Health and Human Services. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  44. ^ Jewell, Jim (7 February 2005). "Questions Follow Fuller's Firing from Habitat for Humanity". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  45. ^ Cooperman, Alan (9 March 2005). "Harassment Claims Roil Habitat for Humanity". The Washington Post. p. A1. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012.