Top 10 Myths about Habitat for Humanity
Myth #1: Habitat gives away homes for free
The Habitat Homeownership program is not for a free house, but for an affordable, interest-free mortgage. So our families do pay for their homes, and they also work hard for them by performing sweat equity. Learn more on our Homeownership page.
Myth #2: Habitat houses reduce a neighborhood's property values
Numerous studies have shown that affordable housing has no adverse effects on a community’s property values. Habitat ensures that our homes are well-built and fit in to the rest of the neighborhood.
Myth #3: Habitat homes are only available to certain groups of people
The only criteria for a Habitat house are ability to pay, need for housing, and willingness to partner. Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County is an Equal Opportunity Lender and a Fair Housing organization. We follow all Equal Opportunity Lending and Fair Housing laws, and we do not discriminate based on race, religion, nation of origin, gender, sexual orientation, family status, marital status or any other protected classes. All households, whether families with children, without children, or single individuals, are encouraged to apply. Our staff is prepared to work with households at various levels of preparedness for homeownership and we encourage any low-income household with the dream of ownership to apply.
Myth #4: Habitat homeowners are dependent on government assistance
Meeting the basic needs of their families is a struggle for many working low-income families and qualified prospective Habitat homebuyers. Sometimes temporary public assistance for low-income families earning less than half of the area median income helps them make ends meet. However, affordable loan payments on a Habitat home decreases the number of families needing assistance. A recent study of Habitat Homeowners in Minnesota showed that 26% Habitat homebuyers received government assistance before they bought a home and only 3% needed it after they bought their home. You can read more about the impact of Homeownership on Habitat families here.
Myth #5: Habitat for Humanity International dictates policy and practices for every local Habitat organization
Meeting the basic needs of their families is a struggle for many working low-income families and qualified prospective Habitat homebuyers. Sometimes temporary public assistance for low-income families earning less than 50% of the area median income helps them make ends meet. However, affordable loan payments on a Habitat home decreases the number of families needing assistance. A recent study of Habitat Homeowners in Minnesota showed that 26% Habitat homebuyers received government assistance before they bought a home and only 3% needed it after they bought their home. You can read more about the impact of Homeownership on Habitat families here.
Myth #6: Habitat for Humanity is a governmental organization
Neither Habitat for Humanity International, or HFHSJC, is an arm of the government. Habitat is a nonprofit organization, independent of the government. Habitat does accept some government funds, grants, and property to help build affordable housing for those in need and to help with neighborhood revitalization. While Habitat has to meet certain criteria to get, and be good stewards of those funds, Habitat is not an arm of any governmental body. Local affiliates, like HFHSJC, institute specific guidelines to prevent them from becoming dependent on, or controlled by, any government body.
Myth #7: Habitat for Humanity was founded by former President Jimmy Carter
Habitat was started in 1976 in Americus, Ga., by the lateMillard Fuller and his wife Linda. President Carter and his wife Rosalynn (whose home is eight miles from Americus, in Plains, Ga.), have been longtime Habitat supporters and volunteers who help bring national and international attention to the organization’s house-building work. Each year, they lead the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project to help build houses and raise awareness of the need for affordable housing.
Myth #8: Habitat for Humanity builds inferior quality homes
All homes built by Habitat must not only meet or surpass every building code in the communities we build in, they must also match the size and quality of surrounding homes. When Habitat builds new homes, or rehabs distressed or vacant properties, we develop quality, attractive, simple, modern homes. All homes must pass stringent inspections by city or county inspectors. Sometimes we even undergo more inspections than other homes due to federal grants that we receive.
While the majority of work on the homes is done by volunteers, all volunteers are trained and supervised by Habitat staff. In addition, plumbing, electrical, roofing, and other skilled work is done by licensed professionals. The results are homes that meet or exceed all codes and standards of the area.
Myth #9: Owning a Habitat home is more expensive than renting
The Fair Market Value of a 2 bedroom apartment in St. Joseph County is $763/month, according to HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development. The average cost of a Habitat home in St. Joseph County is $475/month. In addition, our average down payment is only $1000 with a closing cost of $500, making entry into homeownership easy.
In fact, we make sure that a family’s monthly house payment is less than 30% of their pre-tax income, so that they have more discretionary income to spend and a higher amount of savings.
It takes a lot of hard work and commitment for families to buy a Habitat home. To begin the application process, families must demonstrate their ability to pay a mortgage and manage their finances. Once a family is accepted into the program, they contribute sweat equity hours and attend homebuyer education classes. These steps can take more than a year to complete depending on the family situation. Every day, Habitat homebuyers are working diligently to become homeowners.
The knowledge gained from the program combined with their commitment to their family stability continues to pay dividends long after the family moves into their new homes. Many homeowners and family members pursue college degrees and careers that improve the quality of life for all family members and contribute more to the community. Homeownership is the foundation these successes are built on.
Myth #10: Poverty housing is such a large problem it can never be solved
Making safe, stable, affordable housing available to everyone is a huge issue, but Habitat believes that by continuing to build more homes by partnering with other committed groups, developing new partnerships and innovative approaches, and by putting the issue of poverty housing in the hearts and minds of compassionate people everywhere, the problem can be solved.