Habitat for Humanity of Durham grew from Durham’s faith community, commitment to service, and belief in true partnership.

From 1982 to 1984, a group of youth and adults at Watts Street Baptist Church led mission trips to build with Habitat for Humanity in Tennessee and Maryland.  As the trips grew in popularity, Worth Lutz, Dick Chorley, Floyd Fletcher, and Joe Lee, Jr. began exploring the feasibility of founding a Habitat affiliate in Durham.

In October 1985, Durham Congregations in Action (DCIA), an organization of 24 churches and faith communities, came together to officially found Habitat for Humanity of Durham. In 1989, Trinity United Methodist Church, a DCIA member, offered free office space to the new organization, and our offices are still located there today.

1986 news feature on Habitat for Humanity’s founding in Durham and other North Carolina cities

Rev. Joe Harvard, pastor of Durham’s First Presbyterian Church, told the founding leaders of our ministry, “The Habitat train is leaving the station. If you want to join us, you better get on board.” The Habitat train has made a tangible difference in Durham. Since 1985, we have helped more than 600 families achieve their homeownership goals — more than 400 in Durham and more than 200 internationally.

We strive to be bold and innovative in our work to end substandard housing in Durham and abroad.  However, we will always remain tied to our roots of faith and community.


Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller after eight years of visiting Koinonia Farm, an interracial, Christian community outside of Americus, Georgia. At Koinonia, the Fullers worked with Clarence Jordan to develop “partnership housing”: those in need of adequate shelter could work side-by-side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses. 

Watch below to see footage of Millard Fuller speaking at Durham Habitat’s founding meeting at First Presbyterian Church in 1985.

Millard Fuller at Durham Habitat Founding

In 1984, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn took their first Habitat work trip. The Carters’ personal involvement in Habitat’s ministry brought the organization national visibility and sparked interest in Habitat’s work across the nation.

Currently, Durham Habitat is one of 1,500+ affiliates in the United States and 550 international affiliates that coordinate Habitat house-building projects in over 3,000 communities around the world. Habitat affiliates build houses, while Habitat for Humanity International provides a wide range of support services and resources.