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How It Works


What is Habitat for Humanity?

Founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness in almost 3000 communities worldwide and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat invites people from all faiths and walks of life to work together in partnership, building houses with families in need.

How does it work?

Through volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money and materials, Habitat builds or rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner (partner) families. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit, financed with affordable, no-interest loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are recycled into a revolving fund that is used to build more houses.

What does a Habitat house cost?

An average Habitat house for a family of four in the United States is 1100 square feet, has 3 bedrooms, and costs $65,000 to build. Prices will differ slightly depending on location. Habitat houses are affordable for low-income families because there is no profit included in the sale price and no interest charged on the mortgage. The average length of a Habitat mortgage is 20 years.

What is "Sweat Equity"?

When selected, you become a ‘partner family’ in the Habitat movement. As a partner family WVHFH requires at least 200 hours of volunteer work to be completed as your house is constructed and before occupancy. This is called ‘sweat equity’ and may be completed by assisting in the construction of your home and the homes of others and may include building walls, painting, installing windows, clearing the lot, coordinating lunches for volunteers, helping with Habitat mailings or working on other Habitat projects. Families who purchase Habitat homes invest at least 200 hours of ‘sweat equity’ volunteer labor.

How are the partner families selected?

Our family selection committee considers applicants level of need, their willingness to become partners in the Habitat program and their ability to repay the no-interest loan. We follow a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection. Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing Habitat homeowner families.

How are donations distributed and used?

Donations, whether to a local Habitat affiliate or to HFHI headquarters, are used as designated by the donor. Gifts given to WVHFH can be designated to a specific building project. Any undesignated gifts are used where most needed.

Who controls and manages Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity?

A local, volunteer, ecumenical Board of Directors manages operations in conjunction with short- and long-term volunteer builders. The WVHFH employs a part time executive director and a full time administrator to help manage the day to day operations and research available funds or grant monies.

How many people are employed by Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity?

Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity employs six people; Karen Evans Kaufer, Executive Director; Rachelle Renken, Office Administrator; Nancy Sutliff Turner, Volunteer Coordinator; Bob Sherlinski, Site Supervisor; Paul Precht, ReStore Manager and part time employees at the ReStore.

Habitat for Humanity International Core Documents

A world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.
1. Demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.
We undertake our work to demonstrate the love and teachings of Jesus, acting in all ways in accord with the belief that God’s love and grace abound for all, and that we must be “hands and feet” of that love and grace in our world. We believe that, through faith, the miniscule can be multiplied to accomplish the magnificent, and that, in faith, respectful relationships can grow among all people.
2. Focus on shelter.
We have chosen, as our means of manifesting God’s love, to create opportunities for all people to live in decent, durable shelter. We put faith into action by helping to build, renovate or preserve homes, and by partnering with others to accelerate and broaden access to affordable housing as a foundation for breaking the cycle of poverty.
3. Advocate for affordable housing.
In response to the prophet Micah’s call to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God, we promote decent, affordable housing for all, and we support the global community’s commitment to housing as a basic human right. We will advocate for just and fair housing policy to eliminate the constraints that contribute to poverty housing. And, in all of our work, we will seek to put shelter on hearts and minds in such powerful ways that poverty housing becomes socially, politically and religiously unacceptable.
4. Promote dignity and hope.
We believe that no one lives in dignity until everyone can live in dignity. We believe that every person has something to contribute and something to gain from creating communities in which all people have decent, affordable places to live. We believe that dignity and hope are best achieved through equitable, accountable partnerships.
5. Support sustainable and transformational development.
We view our work as successful when it transforms lives and promotes positive and lasting social, economic and spiritual change within a community; when it is based on mutual trust and fully shared accomplishment; and when it demonstrates responsible stewardship of all resources entrusted to us.

All are welcome

Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity has an open-door policy: All who believe that everyone needs a decent, affordable place to live are welcome to help with the work, regardless of race, religion, age, gender, political views or any of the other distinctions that too often divide people. In short, Habitat welcomes volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds and also serves people in need of decent housing regardless of race or religion. As a matter of policy, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliated organizations do not proselytize. This means that Habitat will not offer assistance on the expressed or implied condition that people must either adhere to or convert to a particular faith, or listen and respond to messaging designed to induce conversion to a particular faith.