||Homeownership Program »
What is the first step toward Habitat home ownership?
The process of home ownership begins by submitting an application during an open application session. We generally accept applications for housing once per year. Check the Apply for a Home page on our website or call us to see if we are accepting applications at this time. During each open application session, Habitat staff holds an informational meeting to explain the Homeownership Program and hand out applications. Applications will also be available on our website and at our office if you are not able to attend the meeting.
If we are not accepting applications, you can have your name added to our mailing list so that you will be notified of the next scheduled application session. To be added to the mailing list, visit our website or call 337-261-5041.
What documents are required to apply for a Habitat home?
• Completed Application for Housing
• $5 application fee PER APPLICANT ($5 for single applicant, $10 for co-applicants)
o Check or money order made payable to “Lafayette Habitat for Humanity”
• Photocopy of signed and valid Social Security card for each applicant
• Photocopy of unexpired driver’s license or state-issued photo ID for each applicant
• A written description of everything that is wrong with your current housing
• Most recent W-2 forms (if employed)
• Most recent Federal Tax Return (if applicable)
• Paycheck stubs for past 2 months (if employed)
• Government assistance award letter(s) (if applicable) for:
o Social Security
o Food Stamps
• Court order for alimony and/or child support, documenting amount received (if applicable)
How does the homeowner selection process work?
After an applicant submits a complete application for housing with supporting documentation, the Homeowner Selection Committee begins by evaluating an applicant’s financial eligibility. This consists of reviewing income documentation and a credit report. Items that may detract from an applicant’s financial eligibility include outstanding collections, excessive debts, recent bankruptcy, and any unpaid judgments or liens. The Committee is also looking for sufficient, stable income to ensure the applicant is ready for the financial responsibility of homeownership.
If the applicant meets financial requirements, there may be a home visit. Here the Committee gathers information about the applicant’s need for housing and willingness to be an active partner with Habitat throughout the program. The Homeowner Selection Committee then determines an applicant’s overall eligibility and presents recommended applicants to the LHFH Board of Directors for approval.
One of the selection criteria is “need for housing.” What does “need for housing” mean?
“Need for housing” generally means that an applicant’s current housing is inadequate for her/his family. There may be a variety of reasons for the inadequacy. The Homeowner Selection Committee selects applicants currently experiencing at least one of the following housing conditions:
• Substandard Housing: Has maintenance and/or structural issues that create health and safety problems (mold, poor heating or plumbing, structurally unsound, etc.), is overcrowded, or is inaccessible for handicapped/disabled family members
• Temporary Housing: Temporary living arrangements or transitional/subsidized housing
• Excessive Cost: Total housing costs (rent and necessary utilities) are more than 30% of income
• Unsafe: Neighborhood that is unsuitable or unsafe for family members, especially children or elderly/disabled individuals
What is good credit?
Good credit means that you pay all your bills on time each month and don’t have excessive debt. Your credit is your responsibility and maintaining good credit is the most important thing you can do. Having good credit means that you have a good credit report. A credit report is a record of your personal financial transactions which make up your credit history, such as credit cards, car loans, personal loans, and negative items such as collections from utility or telephone companies.
How does my credit history look?
You can check yours by getting your credit report. You are able to get a free credit report once a year from each of the three reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. To obtain a copy of your free credit report click on the following link: www.annualcreditreport.com
What if my credit report shows outstanding collections, debt, bankruptcies, judgments, or liens?
The Homeowner Selection Committee considers an applicant’s whole picture and look for applicants who are ready to accept the responsibility of homeownership. At the same time, we do not want to sell an applicant a home that s/he 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 resolve any outstanding collections or past-due items. We are unable to partner with applicants who have active, unpaid judgments or liens. Excessive debts and/or very recent unresolved collections may also 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 two years prior to the application for housing. Certain requirements may be waived in cases of personal or natural disaster.
If you are concerned about your credit history, you can contact the Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Neighborhood Counseling Services to obtain free and confidential credit counseling. To learn more, please call 337-291-5450 or visit their website at www.lafayettela.gov/CD/dpt842neighborhoodcounseling.asp.
You may access one free copy of your credit report each year at: www.annualcreditreport.com
What if I’m not financially ready to apply?
Homeownership is a huge responsibility. Habitat's goal is to help you become not just a homeowner, but a successful homeowner. If homeownership is your ultimate goal, but you're not quite financially ready to apply, below are some tools that can help.
The Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Neighborhood Counseling Services offers free and confidential credit counseling, rental counseling, homeownership classes, and homeless counseling. To learn more, call 337-291-5450 or visit their website at www.lafayettela.gov/CD/dpt842neighborhoodcounseling.asp.
You may access one free copy of your credit report each year at: www.annualcreditreport.com.
Habitat's Recipes for Financial Fitness: Click on the "tool kit" link to go to an on-line course that you can complete at your own pace. The address is: www.habitat.org/habitat_learns/nefe/index.html
What can I do to prepare for applying?
If you plan to apply for Habitat’s Homeownership Program during the next application round, you can prepare by gathering your financial documents. You should also look at a recent copy of your credit report and check it for accuracy. You can access a 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. You can contact the Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Neighborhood Counseling Services to obtain free and confidential credit counseling. To learn more, call 337-291-5450 or visit their website at www.lafayettela.gov/CD/dpt842neighborhoodcounseling.asp.
How long does the homeownership process take?
Habitat for Humanity is not a quick housing solution. The application process takes between 1 and 3 months. If an applicant is accepted into the Homeownership Program, the process from acceptance through moving into a home can take from 8 months to 2 years, depending on available funding, construction schedules, and the future homeowner’s Sweat Equity progress.
If my application for the Homeownership Program is not approved, can I reapply later?
Absolutely. We have limited available spots in our Homeownership Program, and regret that we cannot accept every qualified applicant. If an applicant is not approved during the current application process, we encourage her/him to improve their eligibility (if applicable) and reapply during a future application round.
Some of our partner families were denied the first time they applied due to outstanding collections and debts, income 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.
What is Sweat Equity?
Sweat Equity is the work a future Habitat homeowner spends helping to build his/her own home and 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 hand out.” 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.
Following approval of the Board of Directors, a future Habitat homeowner must complete the required number of Sweat Equity hours, but more important than the number of hours, is a future homeowner’s consistent, active participation on the construction site. In fact, most families exceed the minimum required hours (300-450 hours, depending on household size). Friends and family recruited by a future homeowner may donate the hours they volunteer with Habitat toward a portion of that future homeowner’s Sweat Equity requirement.
If a future homeowner has conditions that prevent her/him from volunteering on an active construction site, staff will arrange for other opportunities through which to fulfill the Sweat Equity requirement.
If you would like to help at the construction site as a general volunteer, please contact our Volunteer Director by phone at 337-261-5041 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have to help build my house? What if I don’t know how?
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.
How much does a Habitat home cost?
The current average cost is $80,000. Habitat homes are sold to partner families for no-profit and are financed with a 0% interest mortgage. The costs of the homes vary depending on number of bedrooms and construction phase.
Monthly mortgage payments vary depending on the length of the mortgage (15-30 years), but will not be more than 20-30% of a homeowner’s monthly income. Monthly mortgage payments include an escrow for homeowners insurance and taxes.
Habitat requires a pre-payment to be made at the mortgage closing (right before a homeowner moves into her/his home). The pre-payment is approximately $1,200. It is applied toward the homeowners insurance and taxes for the first year.
How is Habitat different from a traditional bank/home builder?
Habitat is a non-profit 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 ourselves, Habitat is able to offer its homeowners a substantial monetary savings, opening the door to homeownership for those who would otherwise be unable to afford to purchase a home of their own.
Because Habitat builds homes with affordability in mind, Habitat homeowners have more limited choices about their homes than someone buying from a traditional home builder. While Habitat homeowners are generally 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 number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
How much do Habitat homeowners save compared to non-Habitat homeowners?
Because Habitat is a non-profit builder, we are able to sell our homes for exactly what it cost us to build them. By selling our houses for no profit, our homeowners are saving, on average, $20,000 on the purchase price of their homes.
Because Habitat is a non-profit mortgage lender, we are able to offer mortgage loans without charging any interest or fees. By accessing no-interest home loans, our homeowners are saving an additional $50,000-$70,000 they would otherwise spend on interest charges over the 15-30 years of the mortgage.
As an example, a Habitat homeowner might purchase a house from Habitat for $80,000, and pay $0 in interest to Habitat over a 30-year mortgage. At the end, the Habitat homeowner would have paid $80,000.
A non-Habitat homeowner might purchase an equivalent house from a for-profit home builder for $100,000, and pay $60,000 in interest to a bank over a 30-year mortgage. At the end, the non-Habitat homeowner would have paid $160,000.
What are Habitat homes like?
Habitat for Humanity, with its partner families, builds safe, decent, affordable houses. Our homeowners feel comfortable and secure in their new homes. Because we build houses with affordability in mind, Habitat homeowners have limited choices about their homes, including the location of the home.
Our homeowners generally are able to choose:
• Exterior paint color
• Countertop and cabinet colors
• Flooring shade (light or dark)
Lafayette Habitat homes include the following:
• 950-1,150 square feet of living space, including porch
• Fire-resistant fiber-cement siding
• Architectural-grade shingles
• Insulated windows with screens
• Two or more bedrooms, depending on family size, with closets in each bedroom
• Eat-in kitchen, with built-in cabinets, countertops, and double-bowl sink
• Living room
• One to two bathrooms with fixtures, depending on family size
• Handicap visit-able
• Steel entry doors
• Durable hard flooring
• Water heater, central heat and air conditioning
• Range, Refrigerator
• Washer-dryer hookups
• Ceiling light fixtures & fans
• Vent/light combination in bathrooms
• Window blinds in bedrooms
• Telephone jacks & category 5 wiring for cable TV/Internet
LHFH houses DO NOT include:
• Dishwasher, Washer, Dryer
• Garage or carport
• Concrete patio
• Window treatments
Lafayette Habitat for Humanity is pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation. We encourage and support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or sources of income.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation. We encourage and support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or sources of income.