Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. It is a nonprofit housing organization that seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. HFHI invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need. Today, Habitat has built more than 350,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1.75 million people with safe, decent, affordable shelter.
Responding to a desperate need for affordable housing in the Triangle, Worth Lutz founded the Habitat for Humanity of Durham affiliate in 1985. To date, Durham Habitat has broken ground on over 200 homes, which are sold at affordable rates with a 0% interest mortgage. The payments and "sweat equity" volunteer hours of homeowners are invested in still more Habitat houses, so that Habitat's work continues to grow sustainably.
Duke Habitat was chartered in September 1988 under the leadership of Ted Smith, T'90. It was among the first college chapter affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International. Met with a high level of enthusiasm from the Duke community, in its first year, Duke Habitat recruited over 300 volunteers and raised over $15,000 towards a home sponsorship.
In the next few years, Duke Habitat continued to grow, working with Durham Habitat to get student volunteers building in Durham each week. The group also sent students on work trips over both fall and spring break, organized campus fundraisers including a car wash, a haunted house, benefit concerts and dinners, and letter writing campaigns, and sponsored educational events such as speakers and panels on homelessness and Duke/Durham relations. On December 1, 1990, the chapter dedicated its first Habitat home in the Edgemont community. Former Duke Habitat president Sally Higgins, T'91 said of the dedication:
"Working with Habitat has been without question the most meaningful part of my college career. I value the friendships I have made and the experiences I have had, and I expect the work of Duke Habitat to continue far into the future. The Smith's house stands as a symbol of the possibilities for student-community partnerships."
Since then, Duke Habitat has indeed strived to continue working with students and members of the local community to achieve safe, decent, affordable housing. Over the years, we have proudly partnered with North Carolina Central University Habitat, the Congregation at Duke Chapel, Watts St. Baptist Church, Youth United of Durham, and the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership to co-sponsor several homes locally. Our efforts have not only built houses, but countless relationships between Duke students and members of the community that otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet.
Today, Duke Habitat has grown to have over 1000 members on our mailing list and a small group of dedicated officers. On any given Saturday, you can find students working to build homes and hope in our local community. We are currently sponsoring a duplex on the corner of Carroll St. and Morehead Ave. We also have several volunteers who tutor Habitat homeowner youth and more who will be helping build Habitat homes over spring break. We hold several fundraising and awareness events throughout the year, with activities culminating when we sponsor Habitat week on campus each spring.