10 myths about
Habitat for Humanity
Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) has a vision of a community where everyone has a decent place to live. Sometimes people are dissuaded from applying to our programs or volunteering based on rumors and myths. Let's debunk those right now.
#1: GSHFH gives away houses.
GSHFH does not give away homes. Habitat homes are not free. Partner families purchase their homes from GSHFH via an affordable mortgage that we help them to obtain. Partner families must also provide sweat equity on GSHFH projects and complete financial education classes. For more information, go to habitatspringfield.org/how-to-apply
#2: Habitat is a government organization.
Contrary to popular belief, Habitat is not a part of the government, nor is it a government program. Habitat is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit charitable organization. The 501(c)(3) designation makes it recognizable as “tax exempt” by the IRS. With that said, GSHFH does apply for and receives grants, which empowers us to continue our mission, and all donations to us are tax exempt.
#3: Habitat was founded by former President Jimmy Carter.
No. Habitat was founded by husband and wife duo Millard and Linda Fuller. Millard, a self-made millionaire by the age of 29, said his marriage, health, and personal integrity suffered as his business grew. He and his wife decided to sell their possessions and give away their money to the less fortunate. As they sought ways to redirect their intentions, the Fullers worked with a housing ministry to build simple housing for homeowners who wouldn’t be able to afford a home through traditional means. In exchange, future homeowners helped construct the homes and paid for materials. The Fullers found their calling and tested the model by moving into one such home. Several years later, in 1976, they laid the groundwork for what would become Habitat for Humanity.
Former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter are volunteers. Their first interaction with Habitat happened in March 1984 when the couple participated at a build site in Americus, Georgia, the home of Habitat. They enjoyed the experience so much that six months later, the Carters led a Habitat for Humanity work group to New York to serve 19 families in need of safe, affordable housing. The Carters have since introduced the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, a weeklong building blitz to benefit Habitat partner families.
Linda and Millard Fuller
Former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter
#4: Habitat houses reduce a neighborhood’s property values.
Quite the contrary, affordable housing doesn’t negatively affect a community’s property values. Habitat homes are well-built and fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. In fact, if Habitat didn’t build a home on the plot of land, there might not be any house there. Without any home, there wouldn’t be a homeowner contributing taxes to the local economy or leading by example to show the positive impact a responsible homeowner family can have on a neighborhood. All Habitat homes are sold to partner families at fair market value and serve to uphold property values for every homeowner in the community. To meet our partner families, go to habitatspringfield.org/meet-our-families
#5: Habitat homes are more expensive than rent.
The fiscal year 2021 fair market rent of a three-bedroom apartment in Springfield, Massachusetts, is $1,404 a month. A four-bedroom apartment is $1,648 a month, according to HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) Fiscal Year 2021 Final Fair Market Rents Documentation System. GSHFH builds three- and four-bedroom homes. The average Habitat partner family pays $800 per month, which includes principal and escrow.
#6: GSHFH only builds for young families.
Not true. GSHFH follows fair housing and lending policies and doesn’t discriminate on the basis of age. At GSHFH, there are several families whose children are in high school or college. Many of our family partners are in their 40s and older when they are selected to the program.
#8: GSHFH only helps single mothers.
No. We have nearly as many two-parent families as we do single mothers and we have single fathers as well. We help those who qualify for our program and do not discriminate based on familial status, sex, gender, race, or religion. If you are interested in one of our programs, go to habitatspringfield.org/programs
#9: If I have land, GSHFH will build me a house.
No. GSHFH will accept land donations, but cannot build any one person/family a specific house on a particular piece of property. That’s not how our program works. GSHFH will select a location for future projects as sites become available. Once funding is in place, we open applications to anyone living or working in Hampden County that is interested in becoming a partner family. Applicants that meets all requirements and has the greatest need for safe, decent, affordable housing will be selected.
#7: GSHFH only builds in Springfield, MA.
No. Our name is “Greater Springfield” and we serve the 23 cities and towns of Hampden County. Our reach extends as far east as Holland and Brimfield. To the west, we reach Tolland, Blandford, and Chester. Our towns to the north include Montgomery, Westfield, Holyoke, Chicopee, Ludlow, and Palmer. To the south along the Connecticut border, we reach Granville, Southwick, Agawam, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Hampden, Monson, and Wales. We have built the majority of our houses in Springfield, but are not limited only to the city. There are 16 Habitat affiliates across Massachusetts.
#10: Only men can do construction with GSHFH
and you have to have experience.
No. At GSHFH, both our construction manager and site supervisor roles are held by women – Sheri L. Green and Mary Melchisky, respectively. We invite any anyone that is 16 years of age or older interested in lending a hand to volunteer on our builds. No previous experience is required we will teach you what you need to know.