Attack on Habitat For Humanity

Most of you know Habitat for Humanity as a charitable organization that builds houses for the economically disadvantaged.  Its most famous volunteer is former American President Jimmy Carter.  Central to the Habitat program is the concept of sweat equity, where the home recipient puts in a mandated number of hours of labor alongside the volunteers.  Habitat is dependent upon private donations of materials, funds and volunteer labor.  I was pro bono counsel for a Habitat chapter for 22 years, during which time we built 30 houses.  I handled real estate purchases and sales, zoning applications, subdivision approvals and general corporate representation for that affiliate.

It therefore pained me to see a lawsuit filed against the national Habitat organization as well as the local affiliate by a prospective buyer for handicap discrimination in Federal court. According to the complaint filed with the court, the plaintiffs claim that Habitat discriminated against them because Habitat was unwilling to change its construction guidelines to provide the plaintiffs  with a handicap accessible home.  I find this offensive that Federal discrimination law might force a private organization to rewrite its program and guidelines which are legitimate and which have been in effect for over 30 years.

The plaintiffs also sought a waiver from the sweat equity requirement because of their disability. Also the plaintiffs sought to force Habitat to change its guidelines to allow a household size of two rather than the three person household currently required.  Rather than using the court system to bully a charitable organization to change its rules specially for them, the plaintiffs should find some other housing alternative.

The plaintiffs also claim discrimination because the type on the Habitat documents is allegedly too small for them to read (although magnifying glasses are readily available).

The kicker is that the plaintiffs are seeking punitive damages against Habitat.  In other words, the plaintiffs are asking the court to punish Habitat by awarding a huge amount of money to them from Habitat, something that could render the organization insolvent.  All in all, this is simply a perversion of the legal system.

This is the kind of case that could cause people to refrain from volunteering, and businesses from refraining to give donations, in the fear that the Habitat chapter might become insolvent. Thus, the other home recipients who are willing to play by the rules are penalized and would not receive new homes.  It is entirely unclear to me how Federal law in this case would justify rewriting the guidelines of this private charitable organization.   Hopefully this case will be dismissed sooner rather than later.


We selected you because you took time to talk with me at first contact. I believe it was a good 15-20 minute phone conversation involving a mix of business and personal. In fact, you were the only attorney that asked about what it is we wanted. Every other attorney merely quoted a rate for services. As I recall, you did not even mention money until I asked near the end of the conversation. You give attorneys a good name. I only wish the majority of the other attorneys on this planet had your knowledge and demeanor. Satisfied Attorney Client After years of frustration with an incompetent attorney, I had the good fortune of finding Mr. Whelan. His clear and concise communication style led me to hire him after a free consultation and enabled speedy filing of my case. The difficulties of managing a NJ rental property from CA became manageable thanks to his expertise and knowledge about the complex rental laws in NJ. You took time to talk with me at first contact. You were the only attorney that asked about what it is we wanted. Celeste B. I will never forget my attorney's dedication to obtaining a substantial recovery for me under a severe time deadline and with no cooperation from my former lawyer. Also, Mr. Whelan was very accommodating of my limited English throughout the case and my lack of understanding of the American court system. Personal Injury Client Chuck is well versed in business law, real estate law, landlord and tenant law as well as Planning, zoning and land use. Believe me we challenged his patience, creativity and legal knowledge. Chuck's intellect and ability would be enough. However, his integrity is what impresses me as much, if not more. I would highly recommend Chuck for a variety of legal services without hesitation. We are grateful to be associated with Chuck and appreciate his hard work on our behalf. Happy Small Business Client Mr. Whelan is a great lawyer. His main concern is always the client. In every matter that he has represented me, I have been very happy with the way everything worked out. I know I can trust him to protect my interests and rights. Satisfied Small Business Client Mr. Whelan provides critical services to our executive management team. He provides a very straight-forward and practical approach to our legal issues. He is timely and extremely reliable. Happy Client An extremely capable and trustworthy attorney with an excellent legal skill set. He delivers the results you want and practices his craft with a clear sense of honor and integrity. I would recommend him unequivocally to any person or business needing legal representation or counsel. Happy Client Mr. Whelan is a great lawyer. His main concern is always the client. In every matter that he has represented me, I have been very happy with the way everything worked out. I know I can trust him to protect my interests and rights. Satisfied Client Mr. Whelan is very professional and honest. He has a tremendous knowledge of all areas of law and is very practical in his approach. He is extremely effective at bringing a swift conclusion to various matters. He is well respected by his peers. I would highly recommend Mr. Whelan for any real estate, litigation, bankruptcy or contract issues. Happy Small Business Client Charles has been nothing but friendly and professional with handling my legal needs. Charles has also handled most of my family’s legal matters and real estate closings. I have known Charles for many years and whenever I have needed good advice, I turn to him. Over the years he has become a true friend that I would recommend his services to anyone. Thanks Chuck for all you have done for me! Satisfied Client I have hired Mr. Whelan for several deals over years. I know he will respond quickly and provide professional guidance through every phase of my real estate deals. He is easy to talk to and will make you feel like you're his top priority client. Satisfied Real Estate Client Charles gave me sincere and professional legal advice and even guidance how to understand the situation for free. His opinion was highly professional with deep understanding for the law. I trust him and recommend him for anyone who need a first class trustfully lawyer. John Soliman Mr. Whelan is the absolute BEST!!! He's super professional, to the point, yet very compassionate. He knows his stuff!! I found him online and he got back to me ASAP and we got the ball rolling with no holdup. I would definitely recommend his services with no hesitation. He's trustworthy and won't waste your time which everyone can appreciate. Give him a call!! Sadiyah Thompson Previous Next

New Brunswick Office

Contact Us

Charles D. Whelan III has been committed to excellence for over 30 years. With offices located centrally in New Jersey, he is able to provide businesses and individuals with excellent legal services.

Click the Button Below to Get In Touch

Schedule a Consultation

Watchung Office

Scroll to Top