What is the Habitat for Humanity Homeownership Program?
Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity offers a Homeownership Program to residents of Stearns, Sherburne, Benton, and Wright counties as a hand-up to low-income families that are unable to get a mortgage from the bank. We do not give houses away for free, but instead provide affordable and zero-interest mortgages to families that qualify. If you become involved with our Homeownership Program, Habitat for Humanity will help find you a simple, decent and affordable home. In return, you will have to give time for service work, attend homeowner education classes, and help Habitat in other ways.
Who Qualifies for the Homeownership Program?
There are initial qualifications for those who are interested in our homeownership program.
- You must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident and be able to provide documentation.
- You cannot currently own a home.
- You must have lived in Stearns, Sherburne, Benton, or Wright county for one year before applying.
- You cannot have had property foreclosed on for three years before applying.
- You cannot have had a bankruptcy for two years before applying.
- Your total household income must fall between 35% to 60% of area median income
Total household income is more than just income from employment. In addition to employment income, it can include child support, alimony/spousal support, social security, SSI, SSI for a child under 18, and disability. Food stamps and rental assistance do NOT count towards your household income.
Your application is considered based on the following:1. Need for Decent, Affordable Housing Examples of need include (you need one or more of the following):
- Spending too much of your income on housing (over 30% of household income)
- Living in temporary/unstable housing
- Living in housing that is unsafe
- Living in housing with poor living conditions such as bad heating, poor plumbing, pests, and structural problems
- Special needs of family members is not being met by the current housing
- Steady income. Remember that income is more than just employment income.
- Your debt and credit history will be evaluated. Your debt to income must be under 40%. We also look for active judgments, liens and charge offs.
- Turn in all application materials and other requested documentation on time.
- Complete all materials HONESTLY.
- Complete a minimum number of 200 hours of Sweat Equity per applicant, plus 100 hours for anyone else over the age of 18. Read about sweat equity below.
- Attend homeowner education classes. These classes teach a variety of subjects including financial management, homeowner responsibilities, home maintenance, and mortgages.
- Will allow family story to be publicized. Exceptions are made as needed.
What is Sweat Equity?
An important part of the partner family phase is sweat equity. Sweat equity is the hours of service that all the adults (people 18 and over) in the house must complete. Each adult must complete 200 hours of sweat equity, but a family is only required to complete a maximum of 500 hours. Sweat equity is mostly completed with physical work on your house or other houses that are being built by Habitat, but there are also other opportunities available to complete sweat equity. Other opportunities include baking, office work, and help at major events put on by Habitat. Of the 200 hours required per adult, 50 hours can be done by family and friends working alongside the family member. 50 of the 200 hours can also be completed with non-Habitat community service as long as a Habitat staff member has approved the service. This means that at a minimum, each adult will be completing 100 hours working directly with Habitat for Humanity.