Habitat files suit against founder - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Habitat files suit against founder

Albany- The hands of hardworking women are at work this week on a Habitat House in Albany.

While affiliates like Flint River Habitat are building homes, International is preparing to take its founder to court over Building Habitat, his new fundraising charity.

"But we don't feel like it's appropriate or fair to use a name, whether it's Millard Fuller or anyone else, to use a name that would confuse our donors," said Chris Clarke, senior vice president of communications for Habitat. "We spent nearly 30 years building a reputation that is so respected and so valuable."

Fuller disagrees. In an interview for an upcoming special report by WALB, Fuller said habitat is a word anyone can use and he got it from the United Nations.

"The word habitat itself is a generic word," he said. "It's like tree, it's like dirt, it's like door."

Habitat executives say it will confuse the public and cause problems with fundraising. The lawsuit says... "Habitat is likely to be harmed not only by diversion of funds from its mission as a result of this confusion, but also by loss of control of its reputation, since it does not control Defendant's actions and therefore cannot control the consequences of those actions..."

The Fullers plan to use Building Habitat to raise money for Habitat affiliates and other similar organizations.

But the lawsuit says that the Fullers "...are communicating with Habitat's local affiliates in an effort to foster dissent and acrimony between Habitat and the affiliates."

International has said from the beginning of the controversy that it will fight the name change.

"We want them to understand when they write that check who they're paying it to and what it's going to be used for."

Fuller knows there are donors who trust him with their money.

"It will be wisely spent and we will produce good results and do what we say we will do."

So while the case plays itself out in court, Habitat volunteers will keep working to build homes for people who need them.

posted by news@walb.com

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