In Midst of Recession, Habitat Receives $100 Million Gift

The current recession is leaving its toll on nonprofits. That’s why it’s especially heartwarming to see one individual stepping up when others are cutting back.

J. Ronald Terwilliger, chair of Habitat for Humanity’s international board, pledged $100 million last week to the Americus, Ga.-based organization that provides affordable housing throughout the world. Terwilliger’s gift was the largest individual donation ever received by Habitat and, according to philanthropic experts, sizeable gifts to social services groups are rare.

Terwilliger is the former CEO of Trammel Crow Residential Co. and is a longtime Habitat board member. “People need a decent, safe, clean residence where they can get a good night’s sleep and families can be together,” he told Associated Press. “If they have that as an anchor, they have a way to send their kids off to school regularly and a better chance those children will be healthy.”

Habitat, whose most famous supporter is former President Jimmy Carter, is a Christian ministry that applies the “economics of Jesus” and “theology of the hammer” in providing more affordable housing to people throughout the world. Habitat houses are sold to low-income families at below-market prices due in part to donated labor, material and services. Habitat homes are sold for no profit and financed through interest-free mortgages. Habitat families have substantial equity in their homes on day one and all of their mortgage payments go to pay down debt.

The $100 million gift will help an estimated 60,000 families, Habitat said. Habitat will use $30 million to fund an endowment that will make annual grants to help build more homes. And, in a first for the organization, the remaining $70 million will be used to establish a micro-finance fund to help low-income families around the world improve their living conditions.




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