Hello there! Welcome back to my weekly installment of Habit for Humanity Frequently Asked Questions series.
Today, I’m going to answer questions about how one goes about qualifying to become a partner family. The answer is honestly pretty simple. After hearing about the prospect of being able to become a partner family through a friend who happens to be a realtor, we went to an open house in our city – many cities have their own affiliates, and you can find your areas affiliate if you’re interested in the program – and decided whether or not we wanted to participate in the program. The open house allowed us to see the possibilities of owning our own home.
I’m going to be completely honest, when we first started looking, I started giving every reason why this opportunity may not be great for us. The rooms are smaller, I was losing my den, my living room was shrinking by more than half, we were moving to the south side of Chicago from our very roots on the west side of Chicago. It’s still scary, but the more we do, the more comfortable I get. Change is uncomfortable, and I’m going to be a trailblazer in our new community, I guarantee it!
Before we can even break ground on our plot of land (we still don’t know what our address will be) we are required to do what Habitat calls Sweat Equity. That’s volunteering to help build houses of other partner families, or working in the local affiliate’s Re-Store for the day. All able-bodied home members over the age of 18 are expected to help out. If you have a 16-year-old they can even help in the Re-Store. The cellist is earning his sweat equity through pre-approved methods also. Currently we have to earn 300 hours in sweat equity and we are looking to be half way there by the end of this month.
We can also do specialized things to earn our volunteer hours that also benefit us becoming home owners. Homeowner classes, DIY courses through Home Depot, an estate planning course also top the list of things that we have to do. It’s a bit exhausting, but we would be doing this much if we were going at it alone (well, maybe not the building, but you get the gist.) I keep going back to look at the house plans from the open house that we visited, and having dreams of what will go into each room.
More volunteer hours can be earned while helping our local affiliate continue the great work that they our doing in the city. Habitat for Humanity International says they are:
- A nonprofit, Christian housing ministry that believes that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live.
- We build and repair houses all over the world using volunteer labor and donations.
- Our partner families purchase these houses through no-profit, no-interest mortgage loans or innovative financing methods.
This should go for each and every affiliate that you come in contact with worldwide. The work that is being done is amazing, and I just know that I will be involved for years to come.
The other HUGE thing we had to do was make sure that we were financially sound. With so many folks thinking that this is a free house of sorts, they didn’t understand why we worked so hard to pay down credit, and make sure that we were current on everything (good thing my husband and I are kind of nuts about that anyway.) My student loan was a big factor, but not a condemning one, but we were surprised to see that our credit scores were WAY better than what we imagined, and WAY better than the majority of the country. I guess that even when you don’t have much money, doing things on time, and spending only what you have goes a long way.
We did have to meet with the financial counselors for Habitat for Humanity, and let me tell you, there is nothing as humbling as knowing exactly what you do and don’t have. It was an eye opener for sure, and put us in a position to start a better savings plan for our family. The cellist will be in college before we know it, and we are actually trying to pay this mortgage off before the 30 year mark. That’s kind of hard when you budget as tightly as we do, but I know that we will be able to do it.
In the photos below, I’ll show you the open house that we attended this time LAST year! I can’t believe it’s been that long already. This house was already outfitted with appliances, and everything was set up for a move in from a partner family. This is not our home, but is a basic layout of what we will probably be working with.
This is one possible color of our house front. This particular house was on a location also on the south side, but not on the block that we will be living on. I find joy in the fact that I will have a front yard, and a basement. There are so many things that I will miss about our home now, but so much to look forward to with our new one.
Here’s a close up of one of the kitchen combinations that can be picked out. With most of the appliances being donated by Whirlpool, we’re not able to get stainless steel, but we are more than able to exchange it out if we wanted after we close on the house. I’m not sure that we will change it out, but I’m sure that we’ll be adding a deep freezer to our appliance list.
Another shot of the kitchen layout.
The back facing of the house. Windows in the basement (which will be unfinished) and we can build it up as we see fit.
Backyard layout. We will have a garage instead of the car port that is shown here. Can you say NO need to wipe off cars during the winter. Can someone say AMEN?!
So, Mr. Houseful thinks that I’m hilarious, but I’m trying to figure out where we would put our chickens for our fresh eggs. It needs to be in a corner with enough walking room, but out of the way so that I can have outdoor parties, etc.
Overall, the full focus of our family these days is working through our sweat equity. We don’t want to drag the process on for two or three years, and would like to be in our home before the cellist starts high school this year. It’s a high set goal, but I’m confident we can do it.
So, are there any other questions that you have? Write them in the comments section, and I will be sure to answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I’ll outsource it to our local affiliate and see if we can get you answers in our next update. We have another group volunteer day coming up soon, and I can’t wait to see if we hit our halfway point so that we can pick our plot!