What Does Habitat for Humanity Do?
Most people know that Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to build safe, affordable homes for individuals and families in need. But what most people misunderstand is that the homes built through Habitat for Humanity are not just given to people. The families and individuals who live in Habitat homes go through a lengthy multi-step process to earn their home, and they pay a mortgage on it after they take the property over.
How Are the Houses Built?
Habitat homes are built with partnered construction companies, donated materials, and volunteer labor to keep the cost of building as low as possible. The exact cost to build the home will depend on the location, materials, and volunteer work, but, generally speaking, a new Habitat house in Dallas costs about $100,000 to build.
This is much lower than the median price of new construction in the Dallas area, which allows us to offer a reasonable mortgage to homeowners who would otherwise not be able to afford it. In fact, we guarantee that mortgages for our homes will not exceed 30% of the family’s monthly income. This allows them the financial freedom they need to properly maintain the home, raise their family, and meet other expenses.
On top of volunteer effort, all Habitat homeowners are required to put in “sweat equity” for their homes. The average homeowner family puts in 300+ hours of sweat equity. These hours can be earned by physically helping to build their home, taking educational classes on personal finance, maintenance, and homeownership, working at the ReStore, or volunteering with Habitat in other ways. Even the kids can pitch in by helping! Some Habitats even give credit hours for every “A” a child earns on their report card.
Putting this kind of work and effort into their home gives homeowners an investment in the property and a sense of real ownership. There’s pride in ownership that comes with hard work that can’t be gained any other way. In a very real sense, these homeowners built their own homes. And now they can use that house as a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families.
The Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity also has several retail locations that take donations of furniture, appliances, and other household goods. They then sell these donated items to the public and all of the proceeds go straight back into building homes for deserving families in Dallas.
These stores serve a twofold purpose. They raise money and awareness for Habitat’s mission, and they also make high-quality home goods and furniture available for reasonable prices. People who cannot afford a new couch in a department store can afford a gently used one from Habitat. This also prevents perfectly good furniture and working appliances from ending up in the landfill, making it a more eco-friendly community for our neighbors.
Habitat for Humanity goes above and beyond to educate our homeowners. We believe that true empowerment can only come from access to the information they need to succeed. Our programs help with a variety of financial and practical issues from maintenance and landscaping to building a budget. Examples of our current class offering include:
- Intro to Homeownership
- Identity Theft Prevention
- Comparing Loan Options
- HUD-Certified Homebuyer Education Class
- Domestic Violence 101
- Insurance Basics
- How to Save for College
- Retirement Planning
- Budgeting and Money Management
We offer these classes through live webinars, video libraries, on-demand webinars, and HUD-certified courses.
As a non-profit built on the mission of affordable, safe housing for all, we have deep roots in advocacy. We advocate for affordable housing because it strengthens and preserves neighborhoods, revitalizes struggling communities, and allows families to escape generational poverty.
We advocate on a local, state, and national level for more funding, better terms, and easier access to the shelter and safety that all people deserve.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity, contact us! We can answer your questions, help you apply for homeownership, or direct your donations to where they’ll do the most good for your community!