Common Myths About Habitat for Humanity


A Habitat family with Jack Niedbalski, executive director, at a home dedication ceremony. CONTRIBUTED

We think we know all about something, someone or an organization. Often, these conventional beliefs are inaccurate or flat- out wrong. Jack Niedbalski, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys, explores some of the common misconceptions about Habitat.

Myth:  Habitat for Humanity was founded by former President Jimmy Carter.

Fact: Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 by Linda and Millard Fuller after pioneering a low-cost housing program in rural southwest Georgia. It is an ecumenical Christian housing organization, dedicated to the elimination of poverty and substandard housing worldwide. Jimmy Carter became involved with Habitat for Humanity International in 1984 when he and Rosalyn Carter helped renovate a 19-unit building near their hometown. He has become its highest-profile proponent.

Myth:  Habitat for Humanity builds or renovates homes and gives them to people in need.

Fact:  In the Upper Keys, Habitat for Humanity builds a home and sells it to a qualified family on a 30-year, no-interest mortgage. The Habitat affiliate has a buy-back option should the family need to sell or leave the area.

Myth:  Anyone in need can apply to buy a HFHUK home.

Fact:  The potential homeowner(s) must pass a qualification process in order to be put on the list of qualified families. The head of household must work in Monroe County, must partner with Habitat by volunteering a required number of hours for Habitat activities, must demonstrate a need for safe, affordable housing and must be able to pay a mortgage, taxes and insurance. Household income must fall between minimum and maximum levels based on Monroe County guidelines for the number of people in the household.

Myth:  Potential homebuyers must be or become a certain religious denomination to qualify.

Fact:  Habitat follows a nondiscriminatory policy of homebuyer selection. Habitat home ownership is open to any family regardless of religion. There is no requirement to be a member of, become a member of, or practice a religion.

Myth:  Donations to Habitat for Humanity International from Keys residents will eventually end up at their local Habitat office.

Fact:  Local Habitat offices are called Habitat affiliates, with each affiliate operating independently as a nonprofit organization. Affiliates coordinate all aspects of Habitat home building in their local area, including fundraising, building site selection, family selection and support, house construction, and mortgage servicing. Almost all of the funds raised for HFHUK’s Building Fund are from the local area. Few funds are allocated from Habitat International, and those primarily occur for recovery from natural disasters. Funds raised in the Keys stay in the Keys.

HFHUK’s Building Fund comes from several sources:  individual contributions; donations from businesses in the way of money, products or, services; fundraisers; and profits from the Habitat ReStore in Key Largo.  To donate gently used home furnishings to the ReStore, call 305-453-7855.

The next HFHUK fundraiser is its 18th annual Cocktail Party on March 6 at the Conference Center at the Islander Resort. Items are needed for the live and silent auctions that evening. To donate an item or service, please contact Niedbalski at 305-453-0050 or [email protected].  Information and tickets for the cocktail party are at   

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