Although it’s considered the American dream, for many people, buying their own home is an elusive dream. But, through nonprofit housing programs such as Habitat for Humanity, homeownership is possible for low- to moderate-income households.
With just a couple of weeks remaining in Grand Island Area Habitat for Humanity’s 2017 application period, the organization is encouraging people to call to see if they meet program guidelines.
“People tend to think that Habitat’s program must be for someone else and not them,” said Elisa Day, a volunteer with the organization. “Potential home buyers miss opportunities because they don’t get accurate information about our building and loan program.”
The opportunity to apply this year will come to an end at noon March 10. Depending on how many building lots are available, Habitat anticipates selecting four or five households for homes to be built later this year and into 2018. All the homes are scheduled to be built in Grand Island.
Qualifying applicants buy homes at the cost to build and with no-interest loans. Homes are affordable because of the use of volunteer labor and sweat-equity hours contributed by the future home buyers, plus the support from community partners. These help reduce costs and make house payments manageable.
To qualify for an application, interested parties must have an income of approximately 30 percent to 70 percent of the area’s median income, based on household size. They must also have a debt-to-income ratio that allows them to repay any current debt, plus the projected mortgage. Although applicants do not have to have perfect credit, or any credit, they do have to demonstrate financial responsibility and stability.
“Because we’re a lender, all the initial qualifying factors involve math and finances,” said Day, who serves of the family selection and finance committees.
Other criteria include having lived in the area for a year or more, being a permanent resident or U.S. citizen and being willing to contribute 500 hours of sweat equity.
“Habitat home buyers are better prepared than most first-time home buyers because of skills they learn working on homes and through our extensive education program,” Day said.
Currently, the organization has 21 weeks of mandatory homeownership education. It includes several weeks of financial management, plus classes in lawn care, home maintenance, taxes, insurance and emergency preparedness.
Speaking about the sweat equity and homeowner education requirement, Habitat homeowner April Mora said, “Sure, it’s a sacrifice, but the benefits can last a lifetime. I’m a single mom, with four kids and a full-time job, and I did it.”
Santiago Chavez, who is also a homeowner, said of the experience, “You see all these people working to help you have a chance. It makes you think about what you can do to help others.”
To learn more about Habitat for Humanity’s application period or loan qualifications or to volunteer, call (308) 385-5510, or visit the office at 502 W. Second St., Grand Island.