In 1942, the Jordan and England families cooperatively founded Koinonia Farm in Americus, GA, a multiracial, pacifist, Christian community that supported itself by its production of eggs, chicken, milk, and hogs. It continues to do so today. This communal work of radical equality and economic justice was the fertile ground in which Habitat for Humanity would be planted. Farmer and Biblical scholar Clarence Jordan, the writer of Cottonpatch Gospel, is often considered the "spiritual founder" of Habitat for Humanity.
In 1965, a couple named Millard and Linda Fuller stopped by Koinonia Farm and decided to stay and partner with Clarence Jordan. Millard Fuller was a self-made millionaire by age 29, but this success did not bring happiness and fulfillment. That realization led he and his wife Linda to renew their marriage, their Christian commitment, give away their millions, and begin their new life and work at Koinonia Farm. They cooperated with Clarence Jordan on the concept of "partnership housing," a zero-profit, zero-interest model of community house-building and selling that also included the investment of shared labor on the part of homebuyers. While the heart of partnership housing was based on a Christian vision of service and justice, the strategy was based on a conviction that what people need is not charity, but capital - a hand up, not a hand out. And so the Fund for Humanity was established in 1968 through donations and fundraising as a revolving source of capital to build new houses.
Clarence Jordan and Millard Fuller
In 1973, Millard and Linda Fuller decided to go and test the partnership housing model in the country of Zaire, which is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The effort was successful, and in 1976, the Fullers returned and founded Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) in Americus, GA. From the very beginning, Habitat for Humanity has been an international organization. One by one, new HFHI affiliates began to pop up all around the world doing the same work of fulfilling the vision that everyone would have a decent place to live.
Millard looks at house plans with a Zairean man.
In 1984, President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter partnered with HFHI. They participated in the first Jimmy Carter Work Project in New York city, and there have been many others since that time. The involvement of the Carters brought increased visibility and notoriety to HFHI, and one result has been a great increase of Habitat affiliates across the United States. In 2010, HFHI celebrated serving over 2 million people, and there have been many more since then. Today, HFHI has built, rehabilitated, or repaired over 800,000 houses.
President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter
Millard and Linda Fuller