Millard Fuller was the founder and former president of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI). His 29-year leadership, beginning in 1976, forged Habitat into a worldwide Christian housing ministry, building 200,000 homes with projects in 100 countries.


He passed away on Feb. 3, 2009 at the age of 74. He was laid to rest at Koinonia Farm in Americus, Ga., the birthplace of Habitat and The Fuller Center, and the home of his former mentor, Clarence Jordan.Fuller spent decades traveling and speaking worldwide, and earned international recognition for his work advocating decent, affordable housing for all.


In September 1996, former President Bill Clinton awarded Fuller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.



Severe housing shortage:


There is a severe housing shortage in South Africa. In 1997 the National Housing Department estimated that the number of families without adequate housing was 2.2 million.


Due to population growth this figure increases by about 204 000 every year mainly due to rapid informal urbanization.


Lack of affordability:

Due to high levels of unemployment[1] and relatively low average wage levels, a significant number of South Africans cannot independently provide for their own housing needs.


[1] FCHWC might have to consider strategies for job creation to assist people who are unemployed & homeless in order to address the chronic lack of housing.


Unemployment is also considered as an underlying factor that leads to the growth of the criminal economy.(CEO)




We are presently (2017) working in THREE townships, Bonteheuwel, Wesbank, and Lyndoch (Stellenbosch).


We are planning to build or repair 5 homes in each of the above townships.


1.  Once applicants for new homes have been invited to apply, they should first be invited to an orientation meeting. At this time of our operation, families can only approach us by invitation. Our services are not publicly advertised because we do not have the infrastructure to cope with hundreds of families.


2.  This is the first opportunity for the Covenant Partner to explain The Fuller Center’s mission, method of operation and foundational principles.


3.  It is important at this time to explain the sweat equity and repayment requirements that the partner family is expected to meet.


4.  It should be remembered that a full understanding of the Fuller Center approach will require repeated explanation over the course of the entire process from this first meeting to closing on the house, but a thoughtful orientation meeting will help get potential family partners off to a positive start.


5.  The next step could be inviting the partner family to participate in an upcoming work day. The family’s enthusiastic participation in the work day will provide evidence of their true willingness to partner going forward.


6.  On the other hand, reluctance to participate could provide a warning sign of potential difficulties with that particular family.


7.  Once the Fuller Center philosophy has been explained to and accepted by the partner family and they have demonstrated their acceptance by participating in a work day, they can be provided with an application form and a copy of the privacy policy.


8.  The application should be designed to collect as much information as possible to begin the qualification process, including the name/s of the adult applicants, current address, telephone number/s, family members’ names and ages, all sources of household income, savings accounts and other assets, and a schedule of monthly obligations including debt service, household, educational and transportation expense.


9.  The form should also include an authorization to access credit reports. 


10.  Once an application form has been completed, it will be passed on to the Head of the Family Selection Committee.


11.  Once applications are received the Committee should review them looking for information that may disqualify the applicant on the basis of income, asset level or an income to debt ratio that would make it difficult or impossible to repay the loan.


12.  A credit report should be obtained to identify potential liens or a poor payment history that would make homeownership untenable.


13.  It should be remembered, though, that the financial circumstances of the families we seek to serve will most likely be troubled and the credit report should be seen more as a guide to how they can be helped rather than simply as a disqualifier.


14.  When it appears that an applicant is a likely candidate for homeownership a home visit should be scheduled by the Head of the Family Selection Committee.


15.  Two members of the Family Selection Committee should make that visit, during which they can assess the nature of the family’s current living conditions and get a better sense of the family’s willingness to partner and ability to pay the mortgage.


16.  Once the application has been approved by the Family Selection Committee it should be referred to the Board of Directors for a final sign-off by the CEO.


17.  This should be done in an executive Board meeting and any materials distributed for the Board’s review should be returned to the Family Selection Committee.


18. When the applicant has been approved by the Board, the work of the Selection Committee with regard to that applicant has one remaining task, issuing the Acceptance Letter, which must be signed by both the Head of the Selection Committee, as well as the CEO.


19.  The Partnership Agreement constitutes the understanding between the family and the Board of the Fuller Center for Housing Western Cape, that will result in the construction and sale of the new home.


20.  The Partnership Agreement should include a good faith estimate of the cost of the finished house, the term of the mortgage with explanatory language about it not bearing interest or earning profit, and an explanation of the sweat equity requirement.


21.  The letter should bear the signature of the Founding President  / CEO with an acknowledgment and acceptance signature by the buyer/s.


22.  The Partnership Agreement represents a contract between the Board of the Fuller Center for Housing Western Cape, and the homebuyers.


23.  On small repair or renovation projects the Partnership Agreement should explain the Greater Blessing Box concept, in which there is no mortgage or other legal obligation. 



1.  The goal of the Fuller Center is to provide families in need with decent homes in decent communities.


2.  The Family Partnering Committee is a fundamental part of assuring successful homeownership for the partner families.


3.  Once the application has been approved by the Board, the work of the Family Partnering Committee begins.


4.  The Partnering Committee serves as the liaison between the family and the Covenant Partner, provides the family with financial, homebuyer and life skills training; monitors the family’s sweat equity component; and works with the family to resolve late payment issues.


5.  The first assignment of the Family Partnering Committee will be to develop a plan of action that will guide its interaction with the partner families.


6.  The plan should include the following elements:

a.  Developing a schedule of training programs for Fuller Center policies, household finance, credit and financial literacy, and home maintenance, and recruiting a faculty to provide the training;


b.  Recruiting and training a corps of Sponsors who will work with the family throughout the process, assuring that they are included in Partner Covenant events, attend training sessions, and complete their sweat equity requirements;


c.  Working with the family and the Construction Committee in design issues to meet any special needs;


d.  Preparing the families for potential media exposure;


e.  Working with the Board to develop sweat equity requirements including alternatives for those unable to do construction work, and monitoring sweat equity hours;


f.  Working with the Board to develop late payment policies and procedures and working with families who become delinquent;


g.  Prepare a Homeowner’s Manual with sections dealing with sweat equity compliance, mortgage information, family budgeting and household maintenance.



1.  Sweat Equity is an important part of the Fuller Center approach, involving hands-on participation by the partner family in the construction or repair/renovation of their own home and those of others.


2.  The benefits of sweat equity include helping keep construction costs down, providing the family with a heightened sense of ownership in their home, and providing skills that will be helpful to the family in the future maintenance of their home.


3.  Important decisions in implementing this program include:


a.  Determining the number of hours required of each family—typically between 350 and 500 hours;


b.  Determining the extent to which family and friends of the partner family can contribute hours;


c.  Devising jobs for younger family members who, due to regulations and state law, cannot help with the actual construction;


d.  Determining the percentage of sweat equity required of the family in the different phases of construction.


e.  Experience teaches that 100% of the sweat equity should be completed before the family is allowed to move into their home.


f.  Working with the Construction Committee to assure that the work assignments given to family members are achievable, but significant.


4.  It is important that the family understand that sweat equity, while a required element of participation, has no cash value, and if the family chooses to leave the program their sweat equity becomes volunteered labour.


5.  Sweat equity should not be considered as a down payment—doing so could result in the sweat equity being considered as wages or imputed to have a cash value.


6.  All elements of the sweat equity component must be thoroughly explained to and understood by the partner family and should be specifically referenced in the Acceptance Letter.