Myth: Habitat Houses Are Free

Lindsay M. Harris, JD
Habitat for Humanity Harris Law

Habitat for Humanity focuses on a “hand-up, not a hand-out”. Habitat believes that helping people provide for themselves while paying it back to others who follow in their steps is critical to making lasting change in our community. “What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers, but co-workers,” says Clarence Jordan who was instrumental in founding Habitat for Humanity. It’s very important that all of Habitat for Humanity’s homeowners are partners in this process, not charity recipients. 

It’s a common misconception that Habitat gives away houses. Rather, the homes are purchased at fair market value by the homeowner who then receives a zero-percent-interest loan. The loan payments go back into the “fund for humanity” to build more houses. “For a poor person, this [interest] can be the difference between owning a house and not owning one. The interest forces him to pay for two but get only one.” Clarence Jordan.

By lowering the financial barriers to home ownership, a home becomes something that lower-income households can now achieve for themselves. Since Habitat has been in Sioux Falls for more than 30 years now, we are regularly having homeowners paying off their mortgages, with 3 more expected to do so this year alone. This gives Habitat the ability to build more and more homes every year. What does this mean? We RECYCLE the funds at Habitat to continually improve our mission and help families obtain the security of home ownership. Your $1,000 donation will not only have an immediate impact, it will continue to have an impact. It is a truly unique process.


  • Habitat Homeowners and their families complete a minimum of 300 sweat equity hours.
  • All homeowners receive trainings to help them be successful. They meet with a HUD financial counselor, attend trainings such as Construction Safety Training, and also attend Mortgage I & II Education classes, as well as Good Neighbor & Home Safety classes.
  • Many of Habitat’s homeowners continue donating their time and talent to Habitat even after their required hours are completed to help someone else achieve their dream of home ownership.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sioux Falls was established in 1989 and built its first home in 1991.
  • To date, Habitat has built 166 homes for 257 adults and 650 children in the greater Sioux Falls area.
  • Habitat for Humanity has completed 192 Neighborhood Revitalization projects since 2010 helping 273 adults and 129 children, including 91 disabled, 73 elderly, and 24 veteran homeowners. These projects are completed on existing owner-occupied homes and include exterior painting, weatherization, yard clean-up, and minor repairs.
  • Home ownership helps families achieve financial security quicker and leads to more stable family lives. The impact of home ownership on our community is immeasurable.

To see more information & facts check it out here:

At Harris Law & Co., we have been fortunate to work with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sioux Falls to help more people with affordable housing. The mission is close to our hearts and we could not be happier with the work they are doing in our community. If you would like to volunteer with us at our next Habitat Volunteer day, please reach out to us at 605-777-1772 or email us to get more information. We don’t just do Trusts & Wills; we paint and build houses, too!  

*This blog is for general informational purposes and is not intended to give legal advice. Please consult with an attorney about your situation.

You might also like...