Habitat for Humanity is a globally-recognized organization – in fact, Habitat has won awards for being one of the “most loved” and “most trusted” brands in the world! But despite the millions of volunteers, advocates and donors from every country, we still get a few common questions about our work here in New York City. We’re here to answer some of them!

Habitat builds in New York City? 

You bet we do! While Habitat for Humanity was founded in rural Georgia, we’ve been building here in New York City since 1984. In that time, we’ve served more than 1,900 families in all five boroughs and touched thousands and thousands of other lives through volunteering, community renewal, advocacy work and more! In fact, President Carter’s first build with Habitat was on the Lower East Side! That brings us to…

President Jimmy Carter shaking hands with a woman on the Lower East Side in 1984.

Did former U.S. President Jimmy Carter start Habitat for Humanity?

While President and Mrs. Carter are certainly Habitat NYC’s most famous volunteers, Millard and Linda Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity International in 1976. Habitat for Humanity International was founded at Koinonia Farm, a community farm outside of Americus, Georgia, close to President Carter’s hometown.

Habitat NYC was founded in 1984 in church basements on the Lower East Side by groups of passionate New Yorkers who wanted to make real change in our city.

Watch a video about our 35 years in New York City

What kind of homes does Habitat NYC build?

New York City has wonderfully varied housing stock – from the gleaming skyscrapers of Midtown to the single-family homes of Southeast Queens to the brownstones of Crown Heights, no two buildings are the same! And that means that Habitat NYC builds a wide variety of housing types. We gut renovate or even tear down and build up dilapidated single-family homes, we build multi-family apartment buildings (including the largest single-structure Habitat for Humanity project anywhere in the world!) and everything in between. But we also do so much more than build homes…

What about the affordable housing that already exists in New York City? 

New York City has a rich history of affordable housing development, including HDFCs and other co-ops. Sadly, many of these homes, which have provided stability and self-determination for thousands of families, are struggling to stay afloat and stay affordable. We established our Housing Preservation Program to help these buildings remain affordable, preserve residents’ investment, and keep New Yorkers in their homes.

Learn more about the Housing Preservation Program.

Does Habitat NYC give homes away?

Nope. New Yorkers apply for Habitat NYC homes through our website or on the NYC Housing Portal. Applicants must be first-time homebuyers, have a good credit history, generally earn between 60%-90% of area median income (AMI) and have stable employment history. Once selected through the New York City Housing Lottery, Habitat Homebuyers (that’s what we call someone going through the sweat equity and mortgage process), begin their sweat equity process and put a one percent downpayment upon purchase of their home.

Habitat Homebuyers must complete ‘sweat equity’ hours through financial education classes and by volunteering on our construction sites, providing retail assistance at our Queens ReStore, or performing important tasks in our Manhattan office.

Learn more about what it takes to become a Habitat NYC Homebuyer.

Habitat Homeowner Vanessa G. and her daughters in front of their home.

Do I have to have construction skills to volunteer with Habitat NYC?

No way! We welcome all skill levels on our construction and A Brush with Kindness sites. No experience needed and all you need to bring is enthusiasm. On-site construction leaders train volunteers in all aspects of building. You do have to be at least 16 years old to work on a Habitat NYC construction site and to work on an A Brush with Kindness site and in the ReStore (with signed waiver from parent or guardian).

You can also volunteer and participate in a variety of other ways, from becoming an advocate to helping out in our Manhattan office.

Check out all of the ways you can support Habitat NYC’s work.

Volunteering with Habitat NYC: No experience necessary!

Does Habitat NYC need donations? A big, global organization like yours must not…

Yes. Habitat NYC is an independent, local, grassroots organization working only in the five boroughs of New York City. We are a relatively small non-profit housing developer, working separately of our international parent organization. We depend on donations from generous individuals, faith partners, caring corporations and more to keep us working. Any gift, no matter how small, helps us build a better New York for everyone!

Donate to Habitat NYC