Skip to main content
  • Building a Better Future: Habitat for Humanity

    For many people, the cost of housing continually exceeds their income. In 1973, one man decided to do something about this situation. Millard Fuller, a self-made millionaire, went to Africa where he helped poor people build homes. Upon his return from Africa, Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that has grown to become one of the largest homebuilders in the nation. Mattie and Silas Allen and Valerie Ferguson, Habitat homeowners, discuss what their houses have meant to them.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. How does Fuller explain how home ownership benefits not only the owner of the home but the entire community? How does the building of a house by Habitat for Humanity contribute to the economy of the community in which it was built?

    2. Compare and contrast the requirements for home ownership of a Habitat house with the requirements for everyday home ownership. How has the Habitat program made a difference in giving lower socio-economic groups a chance to own their own homes?

    Expansion

    1. Reflect on the work of Habitat for Humanity and record their thoughts about its work. If you have volunteered on a Habitat project or another building project, you should include that experience in your reflection.

    Vocabulary

    humanity: all human beings collectively; humankind
    economy: the management of the resources of a community leading to its productivity level; (good management leads to high productivity and vice versa)
    low-income: relating to those who earn a small amount of money
    nonprofit: not existing or done for the purpose of making a financial gain

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. How does Fuller explain how home ownership benefits not only the owner of the home but the entire community? How does the building of a house by Habitat for Humanity contribute to the economy of the community in which it was built?
    The pride the homeowner has in his own home helps the entire community to have pride in their home. The homeowner strives to make his/her home safe, attractive both outside and inside, and wants to make a better life for themselves and their family. This attitude spreads to the entire neighborhood, and this generates pride throughout the community. Others want what Habitat has helped provide for this family. When Habitat builds a house within a community, it raises the property values of the homes around it. It is a well-built home, sometimes even better built than others in the same neighborhood. They have such a good reputation for finding homeowners who are able to pay for such a home and care for it that the other homes in the same area tend to become worth more. Today, Habitat tries to build several homes in the same community at the same time so that by the time the homes are completed they are worth more than what the owners are paying for them. Businesses (such as gas stations, grocery and clothing stores, entertainment, etc.) are drawn to this area and provide both convenience and jobs for that community.

    2. Compare and contrast the requirements for home ownership of a Habitat house with the requirements for everyday home ownership. How has the Habitat program made a difference in giving lower socio-economic groups a chance to own their own homes?
    The Habitat for Humanity website can provide the requirements needed for those who want to apply for home ownership through this program. If the teacher or the students have had experience working with or on a Habitat house, it would be helpful to share that experience to the class. Perhaps one of the students lives in a Habitat house. Statistics vary state by state, but it is quite rare for a homeowner who buys a Habitat house to default on their loan (not be able to pay for it). This is not the case for other homes in that price range. There is more pride of ownership since many Habitat houses are built as neighborhoods. They tend to improve the neighborhoods in which they are built, because the owners of Habitat houses make upkeep on their homes a priority. This program has a long record of commitment to low cost housing and should continue to make a difference within each community in which it builds houses.

    Explore More