Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity International, died today, according to the organization he established. He was 74. A former lawyer and entrepreneur, Fuller and his wife Linda started Habitat for Humanity International in 1976 after working to build low-cost homes for the poor in the United States and overseas. His effort grew into a multimillion-dollar nonprofit which combines volunteer labor, in-kind donations, and future homeowners’ sweat equity to build simple, affordable homes around the world.

In the United States alone, Habitat qualifies as one of the largest builders of for-sale homes in the country, delivering more than 5,600 homes in 2007, according to the BUILDER 100 list.

Many responded to Fuller and his cause. Habitat has long been a favorite cause for builders, who, along with their suppliers and subcontractors, have constructed countless homes for Habitat clients over the years. Just last month, BUILDER magazine recognized Fuller as one of the most important innovators in housing during the past 30 years for his Habitat work.

“Millard Fuller was a force of nature who turned a simple idea into an international organization that has helped more than 300,000 families move from deplorable housing into simple, decent homes they helped build and can afford to buy and live in,” Jonathan Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International, said today in a statement.

Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine.