History | Habitat for Humanity Canada | Habitat for Humanity Canada

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Our History

Millard and Linda Fuller founded the Habitat for Humanity movement in 1976 in Americus, Georgia. Built on the idea of partnership housing, Habitat for Humanity volunteers gave a hand up to those in need by working side by side with them to build safe, decent and affordable houses.

Koinonia Farm

The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity International was born at Koinonia Farm, a small, interracial, Christian community outside of Americus, Georgia. Koinonia Farm was founded in 1942 by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan.

The Fullers first visited Koinonia in 1965. They had recently left a successful business and an affluent lifestyle in Montgomery, Alabama to begin a new life of Christian service.

At Koinonia, Jordan and Fuller developed the concept of "partnership housing." The concept centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses.

The Fund for Humanity

The houses would be built at no profit and interest would not be charged on the loans. Building costs would be financed by a revolving fund called "The Fund for Humanity.” The fund's money would come from the new homeowners' house payments, no-interest loans provided by supporters and money earned by fund-raising activities. The monies in the Fund for Humanity would be used to build more houses.

The Fund for Humanity’s mission statement:

What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers but co-workers. And what the rich need is a wise, honorable and just way of divesting themselves of their overabundance. The Fund for Humanity will meet both of these needs. Money for the fund will come from shared gifts by those who feel they have more than they need and from non-interest bearing loans from those who cannot afford to make a gift but who do want to provide working capital for the disinherited . . . The fund will give away no money. It is not a handout.

Inception of Habitat for Humanity

In 1968, Koinonia laid out 42 half-acre house sites with four acres reserved as a community park and recreational area. Capital was donated from around the country to start the work. Homes were built and sold to families in need at no profit and no interest. The basic model of Habitat for Humanity was begun.


In 1973, the Fullers decided to apply the Fund for Humanity concept in developing countries. The Fuller family moved to Mbandaka, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo.) The Fullers' goal was to offer affordable yet adequate shelter to 2,000 people. After three years of hard work to launch a successful house building program, the Fullers returned to the United States.

Expansion into Habitat for Humanity International

In September 1976, Millard and Linda called together a group of supporters to discuss the future of their dream. Habitat for Humanity International as an organization was born at this meeting. The eight years that followed, vividly described in Millard Fuller's book, "Love in the Mortar Joints,” proved that the vision of a housing ministry was workable. Faith, hard work and direction set HFHI on its successful course.

Phenomenal growth

In 1984, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn took their first Habitat work trip, the Jimmy Carter Work Project, to New York City. Their personal involvement in Habitat's ministry brought the organization national visibility and sparked interest in Habitat's work across the nation. HFHI experienced a dramatic increase in the number of new affiliates around the country.

In 1985, the movement spread to Canada with the first Canadian build in Winkler, Manitoba. Two years later, Winnipeg became home to the first Canadian affiliate. Habitat for Humanity in Canada has since grown to 56 affiliates in 10 provinces and three territories and has successfully provided over 2,800 families with safe, decent and affordable housing.

Since 1976, Habitat for Humanity International has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 600,000 houses worldwide – providing shelter for more than 6.8 million people.


Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada has served over 2,800 families nationwide. Internationally, Habitat’s improved the shelter conditions of one million more. 


Habitat for Humanity and the Flying Dust First Nation broke ground on Habitat’s first ever on-reserve build. When it’s completed, the 10-unit accommodation will provide wheelchair-accessible housing for the elders at Flying Dust

The new Habitat for Humanity ReStore distribution centre for all of Western Canada opened in Burnaby, B.C.


Habitat for Humanity Canada signs memorandum of understanding with Flying Dust First Nation to make affordable Habitat homeownership available on the Saskatchewan reserve

Canada Builds volunteer program is launched with trips to the Yukon, PEI and Alberta

Habitat for Humanity Canada celebrates its 100th family served under the Aboriginal Housing Program


Habitat for Humanity Canada partners with Correctional Service of Canada to offer tours of Kingston Penitentiary

ReStore awarded Retail Council of Canada’s Excellence in Retailing Award

CMHC survey demonstrates that Habitat homeownership improves health and happiness of families in Canada

241 Habitat homes were built in Canada and Habitat’s largest build in Canadian history, the 64-unit Neufeld Landing, is kicked off in Edmonton

The 10,000th Global Village Canada volunteer travelled to Argentina

27,000 tonnes of material were diverted from landfills by Restores

63,000 Canadians volunteered on build sites


Habitat for Humanity Canada named one of Canada’s top 100 charities

Habitat for Humanity Yukon kicks off the first house to be constructed on First Nations settlement land in Canada

Habitat for Humanity recognized as a leader in alleviating poverty in Canada and is invited to Federal Budget consultations

220 homes were built and 11 Women Build events took place in Canada

ReStores divert more than 25,000 tonnes of material from landfill


Habitat for Humanity celebrates the 2,000th Habitat home in Canada, built in Winnipeg next to Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg’s 200th home

ReStores celebrate their 20th year with 65 stores nationwide

On World Habitat Day, the 500,000th Habitat home to be buit was dedicated in Kenya


Habitat for Humanity in Canada celebrates its 25th anniversary with 72 affiliates, 65 ReStores and almost 1,800 homes built across the country


HFHC launches ReNew It! – a program to improve existing homes through renovations and repairs enabled by volunteer labour and a no-interest homeowner loan

The Right Honourable Edward Schreyer is named to the Habitat for Humanity International Board of Directors


Habitat for Humanity Toronto celebrates 20 years with its 100th home

Canada’s first Energy Star certified Habitat home is built by Habitat for Humanity Wellington County


14 homes completed through Women Build program and seven via Student Build

The Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, then Governor General of Canada, becomes Vice Regal Patron of Habitat for Humanity Canada


Student Build takes place in Winnipeg with all homes built and funds raised by students


The Global Village program is launched in Canada

70 affiliates, 38 ReStores, and 974 homes


Habitat for Humanity Toronto celebrates the largest town-home project in Canada

Habitat for Humanity Saskatoon hosts the 5th Canadian Women Build

Habitat for Humanity Windsor celebrates ten years of building


Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg celebrates its 100th home and the tenth Cycle of Hope bicycle tour. The Cycle of Hope allows volunteers to enjoy cycling while supporting the Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg’s cause

First Canadian Campus Chapter house built

First ever Royal (The Earl of Wessex/Prince Edward) visit to a Habitat build site

700th home built in Canada


59 affiliates, 25 ReStores, and 600 homes

Pope John Paul II visits Toronto for World Youth Day where youth volunteers of Habitat for Humanity Toronto build a home onsite


HFHC celebrates its 500th home, which was built in London, Ontario

Second Canadian Women Build hosted by Habitat for Humanity Grey-Bruce


52 affiliates, 15 ReStores, and 400 homes

The first Canadian Women Build is hosted by Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region – 200 female volunteers contribute their time and talents


Home for Christmas Blitz holiday build in Cobourg, Ontario


Habitat for Humanity passes the 300th home landmark in Canada

First build in Quebec, Habitat homes have been built in all ten provinces


Ten ReStores open nationwide


Canada’s 200th Habitat for Humanity home is built in Moncton, New Brunswick

‘Bike Atlanta ‘96’: 50 cyclists from all over Canada cycle from South-western Ontario to Atlanta, raising more than $200,000 for Habitat for Humanity Canada


25 affiliates, six ReStores, and 146 homes

Building on Faith launches


ESWP: Edward Schreyer Work Project launched by former Governor General of Canada and his wife, Edward & Lily Schreyer


Canada’s 100th Habitat for Humanity home is built in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

First Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP) in Canada – Winnipeg (18 homes built) and Waterloo (10 homes built)


World’s first ReStore is opened by Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg with the help of five volunteers


HFHC’s head office is established in Waterloo, Ontario


Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg pioneers the ReStore concept – ReStores are building supply stores that accept and resell quality new and used building materials in an effort to generate funds to support Habitat for Humanity building programs


The first Canadian Habitat for Humanity affiliate is established in Winnipeg, Manitoba


The first Habitat home is built on Canadian soil in Winkler, Manitoba

Inaugural meeting of Habitat for Humanity in Canada