The seeds of Habitat for Humanity were sown in 1965, when an American self-made millionaire Millard Fuller came to a major crossroads in his life. Instead of devoting his life to the pursuit of wealth at the expense of all else, he chose to repair his marriage and use his natural entrepreneurial talents for good.
He and his family moved to an interracial Christian farming community in South West Georgia called Koinonia and run by Clarence Jordan. Inspired by Clarence’s practical take on Christianity, in 1969 Millard launched a programme of ‘partnership housing,’ building homes in partnership with rural neighbours who were too poor to qualify for conventional home loans. Millard’s belief was that the poor didn’t need charity, they needed capital. He raised funds and bought construction materials, the community volunteered to build the homes to keep costs down, and the new owners (‘homepartners’) paid back the costs into a revolving fund which was then used to build the next tranche of homes. The theory proved sound.
In 1973 Millard and Linda took the housing partnership concept to Zaire in Africa. The model worked just as well there and more than 100 homes were built in the first project. So began a programme of expansion, and now more than 3000 communities in over 70 countries (including Great Britain and Northern Ireland) have managed to solve their own local housing issues through the Habitat for Humanity model of self-help.