Interested in applying for our homeownership program? Review our Frequently Asked Questions and learn what to expect on your journey from applicant to Habitat homeowner!
The process of home ownership begins by scheduling a Homeward Bound Orientation Meeting. At this meeting you will learn how to qualify for the Habitat program and receive a homeownership application at the end of the meeting. Check our website for meeting dates (habitatbrla.org/homeownership) and email Candi Hagler at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
- Completed Application with signatures from all applicants
- A copy of your lease, a copy of a money order receipt, or cancelled check showing the amount you pay in rent each month.
- Social Security card
- Driver’s license or state-issued photo ID
- Income documentation, including (if applicable):
- Paycheck stubs for two months
- Government assistance award letters:
- Social Security and/or SSI benefits
- Disability benefits
- Tax return for most recent tax year
- Documentation of alimony and/or child support
- Documentation of any other regular income received
Applicants are anyone who is applying to possibly become a Homeowner. For example, in the case of a married couple with children, the parents are “Applicants”, and the children are not.
Only applicants will need these forms of ID.
Income for all applicants is verified and evaluated by Family Services staff. Any applicants that do not fall within the most recent income bracket (27-80% MFI) will be denied. Check the current income bracket here.
If the income looks okay, then a credit report is pulled and evaluated by Family Services staff. We look for zero to very low bad debt (no more than $750 of debt in collections, no more than $3,000 in medical debt in collections, charge offs, judgments etc.) and low debt overall (amount of acceptable debt depends on income). We do NOT use specific credit scores.
If the applicant meets financial requirements, there may be a home visit. At the home visit, the staff gathers information about the applicant’s need for housing and willingness to be an active partner with Habitat throughout the program. All this information is included with the applicant’s financial information and presented to the Selection Committee.
After the applicant is approved by the Selection Committee, they are presented to the Board of Directors for approval.
Habitat considers the whole picture of an applicant and looks for applicants who are ready to accept the responsibility of homeownership. By federal law, we CANNOT sell an applicant a home that they cannot afford. We do not expect applicants to have a perfect credit history. We do require applicants with negative credit accounts to have a plan to fix any outstanding collections or past-due items. Excessive debts and/or unresolved collections may disqualify an applicant.
Applicants who have filed for bankruptcy in the past should show a good credit history since the bankruptcy, and bankruptcies must have been discharged at least three years prior to the application for housing.
If you are unsure about your credit, apply anyway. If you get denied feel free to ask the Family Services staff how you can fix your credit to qualify in the future. We cannot answer specific questions about your credit until you apply.
If you plan to apply for Habitat’s Homeownership Program during the next application round, you can prepare by collecting your financial documents. Get a recent copy of your credit report and check to make sure the information is correct. You can get one free copy of your credit report each year at www.annualcreditreport.com
If you have outstanding negative credit items, you may want to develop a plan to address them with a credit counselor.
Again, if you are unsure about your credit, we encourage you to apply anyway! Our Family Services staff is happy to help you with your credit but we can’t do that until you apply.
“Need for housing” generally means that an applicant’s current housing is inadequate. The Selection Committee typically chooses applicants who can prove at least one of the following housing conditions:
- Substandard Housing: Your housing may have maintenance and/or structural issues that create health and safety problems (such as mold, poor heating or plumbing, or unsafe construction.) Your house is overcrowded, or is not accessible for handicapped/disabled family members.
- Temporary Housing: You have temporary living arrangements or transitional/subsidized housing. Renting is not considered temporary.
- Excessive Cost: Your total housing costs (rent and necessary utilities) are more than 30% of your income.
- Unsafe: Your neighborhood is unsuitable or unsafe for family members, especially children or elderly/disabled individuals.
Habitat for Humanity is not a quick housing solution. The application process takes three to four months. If an applicant is accepted into the Homeownership Program, the process from acceptance through moving into a home can take two or more years, depending on available funding, construction schedules and the future homeowner’s progress through the program.
Absolutely. However, if your application is denied, there is a one year waiting period. If an applicant is not approved during the current application process, we encourage them to improve eligibility and reapply in a year during another open application round.
Some of our partner families were denied the first time they applied due to outstanding collections and debts, income that was below our limits or other issues. They successfully improved their eligibility, reapplied and were accepted into the program.
If you need help finding community resources, our Family Services staff can refer you to tools and resources available to help you improve your situation.
Sweat Equity is the work a future Habitat homeowner spends helping to build their own home as well as the homes of other future homeowners. It is a central principle in Habitat’s mission of building community and partnering with families to provide “a hand up, NOT a handout.” Providing the opportunity for our future homeowners to work alongside volunteers and future neighbors to build their homes is one of the most unique, empowering and rewarding aspects of Habitat for Humanity.
Once you are approved by the Board of Directors to become a part of our Home Ownership Program, you must complete at least 255 Sweat Equity hours at Habitat’s construction sites and other activities. It’s important for a future homeowner to give consistent, active participation on the construction site.
If a future homeowner has conditions that prevent them from volunteering on an active construction site, staff will arrange for other opportunities to fulfill the Sweat Equity requirement.
If you would like to help at the construction site as a general volunteer, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Kristen Lee at email@example.com
Habitat does not require any previous construction skills or knowledge to be a volunteer or a future homeowner. We have a fully trained staff and long-term volunteers who are eager to teach our future homeowners and volunteers the skills they need to be successful on the construction site.
Habitat is a nonprofit organization that provides three distinct services in the homeownership process: home construction, mortgage financing and mortgage servicing. These services would normally be provided by for-profit real estate businesses. Additionally, Habitat staff members serve as housing mentors, here to support our homeowners in learning the ins and outs of homeownership, getting through challenging times and celebrating successes. By providing all of these services by ourselves, Habitat is able to keep our costs low and make the closing process more affordable.
Because Habitat builds homes with affordability in mind, Habitat homeowners have more limited choices about their homes than someone buying from a traditional homebuilder. While Habitat homeowners are able to choose things like the exterior paint color of the home, the homeowner will have limited choices about things such as the location of the home or the size of the home.
The most important difference is that we offer a 0% interest mortgage. By not charging interest, we are able to keep monthly payments low and open the door to homeownership for those who would not be able to buy a home of their own.
Our homeowners generally are able to choose:
- Exterior paint color
- Countertops in the kitchen (laminate)
- Flooring (Laminate and vinyl)
Habitat homes do include brand new refrigerator, stove, washing machine and dryer. Dishwasher and microwave are NOT included.
Habitat builds homes only on lots that we own. We will NOT build on your land or land that your family owns.
While we cover 4 parishes, East & West Baton Rouge, Iberville & Ascension, all of our current builds and planned builds for now are in the City of Baton Rouge.