What It Takes to Be a Habitat Homeowner
A lot of people think that Habitat homeowners are just handed their homes, free of charge. But nothing could be further from the truth. Habitat homeowners own their own homes. They take over the mortgage, the maintenance, and become homeowners in every sense of the word. And while anyone can apply to be a Habitat homeowner, regardless of their skin color, sexual orientation, religion, veteran status, or disability status, there are certain requirements that must be met during the application process.
Prospective Homeowners Must Demonstrate Need
All applicants for Habitat homeownership must demonstrate a need for safe, affordable housing. The criteria for need varies from community to community, but usually involves a statement from the applicant about their current conditions as well as some financial information.
They Must Put In “Sweat Equity”
Once a homeowner is selected, they must partner with Habitat for Humanity throughout the building and homeownership process. This includes “sweat equity,” or a willingness to help with the building–either of their own home or other Habitat homes in the community.
If the homeowner is unable to perform laborious tasks due to illness, age, or disability, or if they prefer, they can build sweat equity in other ways. Many of our homeowners help out in the Habitat ReStore or take homeownership classes that have been approved by Habitat.
The average family puts in 200 to 400 hours of sweat equity before moving into their new home. This can be taken on by any adult member of the family as well as any friends or co-workers who want to help them out.
Some Habitats even find creative ways for the kids to help out. For instance, one Florida Habitat awards one hour of sweat equity for every “A” a child earns in school. This is meant to foster a sense of ownership and pride in hard work that will serve the new homeowners moving forward.
Ability to Pay
As we mentioned above, Habitat homes are not just handed over fully paid for. They are built by the non-profit and then sold to the applicant through a mortgaging process. So Habitat homeowners must be able and willing to pay a mortgage.
Because we partner with local contractors, raise money, and have both time and material donated, we are able to keep the cost of living extremely low in our Habitat homes. The exact mortgage will depend on the size of the home and the area in which the homeowner will be living.
Habitat mortgage payments are then cycled back into the community and the funds are used to help build additional Habitat houses. This is how we give back to our community and help bring up the next generation of homeowners in high-need, low-income communities.
How Long Is the Application Process?
Every Habitat affiliate has its own homeowner selection and application process. It may take weeks or months depending on demand and availability in your area. If you have questions about how to apply for Habitat Housing in the Dallas area, contact us at 214.678.2300.