A Short Overview of Habitat For Humanity
In Americus, Georgia in 1976, Linda and Millard Fuller formed an organization called Habitat for Humanity. Although many people may be acquainted with the not-for-profit’s name and are perhaps aware of the famous partnership with former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter, significantly fewer are aware of the philosophy of the organization, or the breadth of its activities. Today we talked with Meghana Rajadhyaksha, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, to learn more about the organization.
The Habitat for Humanity Philosophy
The central concept at the heart of Habitat for Humanity (or, as it’s referred to by many of its volunteers, simply ‘Habitat’) is that people in need of shelter should not go lacking simply due to a shortage of money. A self-described “Christian Housing Ministry”, Habitat devotes itself to constructing simple, decent, and affordable housing for impoverished people around the world. To accomplish this goal, Habitat for Humanity uses a labour force comprised exclusively of volunteers, who work in conjunction with the ultimate end recipients of the projects. So, those who are the beneficiaries of the charity also work to construct their own housing. Meghana Rajadhyaksha explains that this arrangement brings with it more dignity and instils a greater sense of accomplishment and ownership in the partner families selected to receive Habitat’s aid.
A Global Reach
It may come as a surprise to many that Habitat for Humanity is not just an American endeavour. The organization has large-scale projects ongoing across the world, with regional offices in the USA and Canada, Central America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific regions, respectively. Truly, it is a charitable organization with a global reach. Since its inception, Habitat for Humanity has built, preserved, renovated, or rehabilitated eight hundred thousand dwellings, and given shelter to an estimated four million people. It is the largest not-for-profit builder on Earth.
Community-level branches of the charity act in partnership with the larger umbrella organization, Habitat for Humanity International. In the United States, these local branches are known as affiliates, while outside of the United States, Habitat operations are overseen by national-level divisions. Each affiliate and national-level division is an independently run, not-for-profit entity, and autonomously manages all aspects of home construction within their assigned area. Meghana Rajadhyaksha states that this includes all building-site selection, material purchasing and distribution, construction, partner family selection, fundraising, and mortgage servicing.
How Habitat Homes Are Financed
Even those with more than a passing familiarity with Habitat for Humanity can be a little fuzzy on how exactly so many homes sitting atop of so much land can be built so cost-effectively—real estate acquisition and home construction being famously expensive. However, the simplicity of how Habitat homes are financed is elegant. As stated above, all labour is voluntary. Most materials used in home construction are either donated or cost-reduced. A large percentage of the land that Habitat for Humanity builds on is donated, as well. In addition, the organization conducts fundraising to offset whatever land and materials are not provided through donations. Further augmenting this, as a legitimately registered charity, Habitat receives financial support from individuals, corporations, service groups, and communities. Finally, all mortgages on the completed homes are held by either the affiliate or national divisions of Habitat for Humanity, the payments from which are used to fund future building projects.
From the time Linda and Millard Fuller constructed their very first home in Sumter County, Georgia through to the present day, Habitat for Humanity has provided well-constructed shelter at a minimal cost to impoverished families around the globe. Habitat has eased the suffering of millions of people and helped to provide them with a better life. It is an organization with which Meghana Rajadhyaksha and her husband, Dr. Amar Rajadhyaksha, are immensely proud to be associated with.