Habitat’s Hand Up Homes
Have you heard that Habitat for Humanity gives away homes for free? Me too … before I took a closer look. The truth is even more amazing! Habitat does NOT give away homes, they give away the OPPORTUNITY to buy an affordable home to low-income people who will pay no more than 30% of their income for the mortgage, insurance, property taxes and utilities combined! And to top it off, Habitat sells the home at COST with a ZERO interest mortgage! That’s what a HAND UP is all about. Handouts may make things better in the short-term, but they fail to improve an individual’s position long-term and often perpetuate a mindset of dependency.
Habitat for Humanity Yuba/Sutter believes in the Hand Up approach where a family steps up to become an equal partner willing to invest themselves while improving their own future. We believe in helping people use their God-given abilities to work and to take care of their own needs with dignity. It starts with decent, affordable shelter that offers strength, stability, security, and self-reliance that will build a strong foundation for generations to come.
Building a house takes a lot of hard work and Habitat’s Homeownership Program is no exception. The key is PARTNERSHIP. Families in the program must agree to work 500 hours of “Sweat Equity” building their home or working in other ways that support Habitat’s mission, taking homeowner education classes, and complying with all terms of the Habitat Partnership Agreement. In addition, applicants must also show the ABILITY TO REPAY an affordable mortgage and the NEED for decent housing.
Applicants must make between 30-80% of the local average median income, be residents of the area for at least one year, and be either US Citizens or have Legal Permanent Resident status. Applications which meet these initial criteria are reviewed by a Family Selection Committee (made up of members of the community, the Family Services Manager, and a Board member) to assess the applicant’s ability to repay, degree of need, and willingness to become partners in the program.
The Committee thoroughly reviews the application, conducts interviews, assesses current living conditions, and verifies the applicant’s background. The Committee then selects the most qualified applicants with the greatest social and economic need to recommend to Habitat’s Board of Directors, which makes the final selection decisions. Approved applicants become “Partner Families” and are welcomed into the Homeownership Program to begin their journey.
Partner families have shared some of the benefits home ownership has made in the trajectory of their lives. An affordable mortgage leaves money to pay for such things as health care, childcare, and the school field trip their child wants to attend; job and education stability increase by not having to move frequently; there is more time to study or take college courses to qualify for a better job; stress is decreased by improved physical safety and security; people gain the pride of home ownership that they helped build with their own hands; and the kids get a quiet place to do homework and a fenced back yard to play in.
Habitat for Humanity Yuba/Sutter believes everyone deserves a decent place to live. We build community, prosperity and hope. You are welcome to join us In serving. One thing to remember with a Habitat Hand Up Home …. Be prepared to get your hands dirty!
~Laurie Sweeney Habitat for Humanity Yuba Sutter Board Member