Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first step toward Habitat home ownership?

Download an application here. After completing it and attaching copies of the requested documents, mail it to us or drop it off at our office. If you aren’t able to download and print the application, you may pick one up at our office lobby which is open 24 hours a day, or contact the office at 320-656-8890 or ebitzan@cmhfh.org to request one.

How does the selection process work?

The Committee will evaluate your financial eligibility.  This consists of obtaining documentation (see the application for a list of required documents), references, verification forms, and a credit report to learn about your credit situation. Close attention is paid to outstanding collections, debts, and any unpaid judgments (judgments must be satisfied before the family can purchase a home).  The Committee is looking for you to show adequate, reliable income to be sure you are ready for the financial responsibility of home ownership. If you meet income and financial requirements, there will be a home visit.  Here the Committee is looking for your need for housing and willingness to be an active partner with Habitat throughout the program. The Selection Committee then determines your eligibility and presents selected families to the Board of Directors for approval and acceptance.

What if my credit report shows outstanding collections, debt, bankruptcies, judgments, or liens?

We do not look for perfect credit.  We consider your whole picture and look for applicants who are ready to accept the responsibility of home ownership. At the same time, we do not want to put you in a home that you cannot afford or in a situation where you cannot be a successful home owner.

What can I do to prepare for applying?

You are highly encouraged to develop a plan of action to resolve outstanding credit issues. If you would like to get a head start, you can begin to clean up your credit report, seek free financial counseling, and attend the required First Time Home Buyer Class.

How long does the process take?

The process from beginning to moving into the home can take from 12 to 24 months or more depending on construction schedules. Once approved for the program you begin earning your Sweat Equity hours by contributing to the construction on others’ homes and saving for closing costs.

What does “need for housing” mean?

“Need for housing” can mean a few different things.  If the Selection Committee determines any of these apply, you meet this requirement.

  • Substandard Housing: Has issues that create health and/or safety problems (mold, unsafe neighborhood, poor heating or plumbing, etc.), or too few bedrooms for the number, ages, and gender of household members.
  • Temporary Housing: Temporary living arrangements or transitional/subsidized housing.
  • Housing that is too expensive: 50% or more of the income is being spent for total housing costs (rent and necessary utilities, i.e., water, sewer, trash removal, gas and electricity).

What is Sweat Equity?

Sweat Equity is the time and effort you contribute toward the purchase of you home through the construction of others’ homes as well as your own.  It is a central principle in Habitat’s mission of building community and partnering with families to provide “not a hand-out, but a hand-UP!”  Following approval of the selection committee, you must complete the required number of sweat equity hours, but more important than the number of hours, is your consistent, active participation on the jobsite.  In fact, most families far exceed the minimum required numbers of hours.

What if I don’t know anything about construction?

We do not require any previous skills or knowledge.  Sweat equity is an exciting learning experience in which you work with your family, friends, and community to build other peoples’ homes as well as your own. Working alongside volunteers and future neighbors to build your home and community is one of the most unique, empowering, and rewarding aspects of Habitat for Humanity.

If I’m denied, can I reapply?

Absolutely.  The Family Selection Committee does their best to refer you to the tools and resources available to help you improve your situation. Some of our home owner families were denied the first time they applied due to outstanding collections and debts, income below our limits, recent bankruptcies, or other issues.  They successfully improved their eligibility, reapplied, and were accepted into the program.