Own A Home:
A Hand-Up, Not A Hand-Out.......
Path to Homeownership
When do you know you’re really home for the first time? When you sign the mortgage? When you turn the key in the door? When you wake up to see the sun slanting through the window of your new bedroom? For Holmes County Habitat partner families, there may not be one moment. For them, “home” is a commitment, a goal, a journey, and finally, a place to call their own.
Becoming a homeowner is a daunting process for anyone. The financing, paperwork, and legal steps can test the mettle of even the savviest homeseeker. For a family who has lived for years in dilapidated neighborhoods and in units with rodents, leaky ceilings or unresponsive landlords, the process is especially intimidating.
That’s where Habitat comes in. In a partnership that begins with a financial review and continues with hundreds of hours of sweat equity and homeownership training, partner families build the skills and confidence to own and maintain their own homes. The result is stronger families and stronger communities.
Starting the process
For partner families, the excitement begins when they first learn of the opportunity to purchase a decent, affordable home through the Holmes County homeowner program. When it comes time to apply, applicants work with staff members to build a loan application, verifying that they meet the requirements to purchase a Holmes County Habitat home. While the loan application is similar to that of a standard mortgage application, the qualification levels are substantially different as each home buyer receives a zero-interest mortgage with payments not to exceed 30% of their gross household monthly income.
Once the loan application is completed, the next step for partner families is a meeting with the Holmes County Habitat family selection committee, and later the Board of Directors, to review finances. With the support of the committee and Board, partner families work with committee members to develop a financial plan and lifelong budget that will enable them to buy, maintain and thrive as a homeowner. From repairing credit to “paying themselves” through savings, the meetings cover every detail.
Partner families change their outlook long before they change their address. As tenants, they had to pay rent. In the financial review, they learn that homeowners are responsible for upkeep, repairs, insurance, taxes and more—and the transition can be intimidating.
At the same time, sharing personal finances with strangers can feel risky. However, these strangers quickly become friends as the staff builds trust with partner families, helping to build the skills and confidence necessary to take the next step.
Laying the Foundation
After getting an overview of the financial aspects of home-ownership, partner families contribute 200 hours of sweat equity—the signature feature of Habitat —and participate financial and home-maintenance education.