I had the privilege of working with Millard Fuller, Habitat for Humanity’s founder. Millard was a millionaire by the age of 29, was committed to amassing more and more wealth and found his family and spiritual life suffering as a result. To remedy this, Millard and his wife Linda followed the advice Jesus gives the rich young ruler in the Gospel of Luke, to give away all of their wealth and direct their lives to serving the poor in God’s name. This led Millard and Linda to the Koinonia Farm Christian community near Americus, Georgia where, along with Koinonia founder Clarence Jordan, the idea for Habitat for Humanity was hatched.

Millard was a captivating public speaker and I was able to listen to him often. One theme that he spoke about, and I remember vividly, was that a “graceful” community was a community without substandard housing in its midst. For Millard, the opposite of grace is disgrace and he would assert that a community that had substandard housing was a disgrace. He would then conclude by energizing the crowd and encouraging everyone to work together for a graceful community.

These are strong words, but based on Millard Fuller’s understanding of God’s desire for people, Wake County is a disgraceful community. Amid the affluence that most of our citizens enjoy, there exists substandard housing and many families face this reality as they go to bed each night. 20% of North Carolinian children live in substandard or dilapidated housing. In certain parts of our county this substandard housing is very concentrated and whole communities must live this disgrace each and every day.

At Habitat, we believe that Wake County can become a graceful community, as Millard suggests, free of the blight of substandard housing. The remedy is clear, it’s just do we have the will to make it happen? I’m eager to hear your thoughts.