We work at community level in over 70 countries, through local people who play an active part in solving their own housing problems with our assistance.
Habitat for Humanity provides:
- A framework of good governance, within which all projects must operate (for example, regular auditing, adequate build quality standards, monitoring and evaluation, homeowner selection processes).
- Training in project and finance management, good governance, community development, construction and maintenance, and health education.
- Access to a worldwide network of housing expertise.
- International volunteers (at the invitation of the local community).
The community provides:
- Local leadership and project management.
- Local volunteers.
- Homepartner selection.
The key principles of how we work are:
‘Sweat equity’: Those who will live in our homes (our ‘homepartners’) must put in up to 500 hours of their own time, helping to build or renovate their own home and others in the community. This reduces the costs, increases their sense of ownership and self-esteem, and also builds community.
Repayment: Habitat for Humanity's homepartners invest their own resources, at an affordable level, in the project in which they participate. This could be a non-profit mortgage or a micro loan. The homepartners’ monthly mortgage payments go into a revolving fund and are used to build still more Habitat for Humanity houses. The only exception to this is disaster reconstruction schemes, where costs are not repaid by homepartners if they have lost their livelihoods and therefore do not have the means to pay.
Using voluntary labour drives the cost of building a new home down, but we don’t just facilitate the building of new homes. Many people living in poverty opt for renovating or extending the home that they have, as this is more affordable for them.
Families in need of decent shelter apply to local Habitat for Humanity affiliates. The affiliate's selection committee chooses homepartners based on their need, their willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity and their ability to make the non-profit mortgage repayments (except in disaster reconstruction situations).
Although Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organisation, the beliefs of homepartners play no part in the selection process. We help people regardless of race or belief.
Repayments and Financial Management
Each homepartner family signs a sale and purchase agreement for the cost of their house or building project. The sale is paid for with a Habitat for Humanity mortgage, or a loan from a partner microfinance organisation, which is the amount the homepartner is required to repay.
Repayments go into a ‘revolving fund’ which is then used to seed fund further home builds or renovations in the community.
Habitat for Humanity’s interest in the house is protected by a legal charge, which progressively transfers the equity of the home to the family – starting at year five of the mortgage. Habitat for Humanity's commitment to gift the equity sum may be suspended or cancelled completely if there are serious breaches of the homepartner's obligations under the mortgage.
However, if repayments have been missed due to extenuating circumstances, such as the death of the main income earner, we may choose to suspend the requirement for repayments. Each case is judged on its own merits by the local community.