How to Qualify for Habitat for Humanity

by M.H. Dyer

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, Christian organization that, with the help of supporters, volunteers and potential Habitat homeowners, builds safe, affordable homes for people in need. Funding is provided by gifts from corporations, individuals and charitable groups. The organization, headquartered in Georgia, builds home for people in the United States and around the world. The application process is lengthy, and decisions are never made on the basis of religion or race. To begin the application process, contact your nearest local affiliate for specific information and application forms.

Income Guidelines

Applicants must demonstrate an ability to pay for the home with steady income and a history of stable employment; however, minimum and maximum income limits vary depending on local guidelines. Many affiliates require applicants to have a savings account for at least two years, and most require reasonably good credit with a record of paying bills on time. As a general rule, applicants must prove that they do not qualify for conventional financing and that they have not owned real estate within the last three years. In most cases, a recent bankruptcy is reason for disqualification. Most affiliates require applicants to pay monthly mortgage payments as well as closing costs and a reasonable down payment.

Documentation

Habitat for Humanity applicants must provide documentation for each person age 18 and over. Documents include tax returns and W-2 forms. Other documentation depends on circumstances and may include proof of pension, worker's compensation, or public assistance such as food stamps or social security. If applicable, applicants must provide a court-ordered child support agreement and verification of receipt of child support.

Partnering With Habitat

Each applicant must contribute a minimum number of hours of sweat equity toward the construction of Habitat homes, including homes for other applicants. Number of hours vary depending on location, but often range from 300 to 500 hours shared between each primary applicant. Some affiliates require a minimum number of hours per month. Applicants must also attend homeowner education classes and workshops.

The Application Process

Once all documentation is submitted and income qualifications are met, a representative meets with each applicant to verify information and conduct an in-depth analysis of debt-to-income ratio and ability to pay required mortgage payments. This process may take several weeks. The next step is a home visit that allows a representative to assess the applicant's current living situation and assess family needs. A desire to own a new home doesn't qualify an applicant for a Habitat for Humanity home. A home visit determines the need for new housing, based on characteristics such as an unsafe living environment or a home in an area known to be dangerous.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

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