We’re happy to answer all your questions. Here are a few of the ones we hear most often.
- A nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry.
- We seek to eliminate substandard housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.
- To accomplish these goals, we invite people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need.
- Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses alongside our homeowner (partner) families.
- Habitat is not a giveaway program. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor (sweat equity) into building their Habitat house and the houses of other Habitat family partners.
- Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with a 0% mortgage that Habitat manages.
- The home owners’ monthly mortgage payments are used to support building still more Habitat houses
- Families in need of decent shelter apply to local Habitat affiliates.
- The affiliate’s family selection committee chooses homeowners based on their level of need, their willingness to become partners in the program, and their ability to repay the loan.
- Every affiliate follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection.
- Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing the families who receive Habitat houses.
Habitat for Humanity Detroit complies with the U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation. We 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.
- From $800 in some developing countries to an average of nearly $60,000 in the United States. Habitat Detroit houses range from $65,000 to $80,000.
- Mortgage length varies from 7 to 30 years. Most Habitat Detroit mortgages are 25 years in length.
- Community-level Habitat for Humanity offices act in partnership with, and on behalf of, Habitat for Humanity International.
- Each affiliate is an independently run, non-profit organization.
- Each affiliate coordinates all aspects of Habitat home building in its local area—fund raising, building site selection, partner family selection and support, house construction, and mortgage servicing.
- Worldwide, including more than 90 countries and in all 50 states of the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.
- Our operational headquarters are located in Americus and Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
- Donations, whether to a local Habitat affiliate, or to Habitat for Humanity International, are used as designated by the donor.
- Donations received by HFHI that are designated to a specific affiliate or building project is forwarded to that affiliate or project.
- Undesignated donations are used where most needed and for operational expenses.
- An ecumenical, international board of directors determines policy and oversees and guides the mission of Habitat for Humanity International.
- Board members are dedicated volunteers who are deeply concerned about the problems of substandard housing around the world.
- The HFHI headquarter offices operate with an administrative staff, assisted by a core group of professional and support employees and supplemented by volunteers.
- Each local Habitat affiliate is managed by its own local volunteer board of directors.
- Our Government Relations and Advocacy team works with legislators and housing regulators to increase support for affordable homeownership and eliminate poverty housing.
- We monitor public policies related to housing, community and international development.
- We advocate policy choices that increase access to decent, affordable housing for people around the world.
- We accept government funds for infrastructure, utilities, capacity building or training, and house building. We accept these funds so long as they have no conditions that would violate Habitat’s principles or limit its ability to proclaim its Christian identity.
- Habitat affiliates start when concerned citizens of diverse backgrounds come together to address the problem of poverty housing in their community.
- These volunteers research the community’s affordable housing needs and resources and evaluate the potential success of Habitat’s self-help model in their community.
- The group then applies to HFHI to become an official Habitat affiliate.
House construction is funded by a combination of sources. Financial sponsorship by corporations and faith groups (e.g., churches) provide about 75% of the construction costs. Additional donations as well as supplemental funds complete the house funding. Some manufacturers of construction materials will donate their products. Examples of this gift-in-kind practices for Habitat Detroit include:
- Dow Automotive providing all the rigid foam insulation used to add additional insulation to the exterior walls and the poured foundation walls.
- Lafarge Cement donating the cement that goes into our concrete used in the foundations and flatwork around the houses. Lafarge Gypsum provides all the drywall and mud required for finishing the interiors.
- Valspar donating all the primer and finish paint that goes into our houses. This is a low V.O.C. (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint that reduces the amount of “gassing” of harmful compounds that may affect the occupants’ respiratory system.
- Square D providing the electrical service box and electrical breakers for all our houses. Yale providing locksets and hardware for the exterior and interior doors.
- Various trades providing a percentage of their services at no charge (ex. for every nine houses that are wired, the tenth is provided at no charge). Our alarm system provider installs the units at no charge and donates the cellular transmitter for monitoring the system.
Habitat Detroit also receives donations that are designated for the construction of houses.
There are private foundations that will sponsor houses.
Grants are available on a competitive basis through companies (ex. banks, Federal Home Loan Banks), and the federal government (ex. HUD).
- Habitat for Humanity extends its homeownership to any individuals or families that can display a need for housing.
- Candidates may be living in substandard housing where they pay rent. They may also have lost their home due to predatory lending practices.
- They may live in overcrowded conditions.
- Habitat will look at these situations on a case-by-case basis.
- Existing homeowners and those prior homeowners who lost their homes due to non-payment of their mortgage are not eligible for homeownership.
- Homeowners must be employed and earn annual wages in excess of $22,000. This minimum level increases with the size of the family.
- The candidate cannot have delinquent debit exceeding $1500, excluding medical and educational expenses.
- Habitat Detroit conforms to the Equal Housing Opportunity policy of offering these houses to candidates regardless of race, ethnicity or sex.
- There is also a team that goes out and interviews the candidates to ensure that their needs are valid.
Habitat Detroit originally rehabbed houses versus building new. Once the houses’ infrastructure was brought up to code by rewiring, replacing the plumbing and heating system, water heater, drywall and insulation, we realized that the cost to rehab was more expensive than new construction. Today, health regulations require that mold, asbestos and lead paint (used in homes built before 1978) be abated. These can add additional cost as well. Another recent regulation is that any rehabbed house where federal funds are used to subsidize the rehabilitation process, the house must meet Energy Star standards.
Probably the most important deterrent to making the decision to rehab a house is its condition. Many homes once foreclosed are abandoned. Once abandoned, these houses are targets for thieves. Brick veneer homes are stripped of their brick. Windows are typically removed or destroyed. The electrical wiring and water pipes are also popular items to strip for their salvage/scrap value. Lastly, water heaters and furnaces are typically removed and sold for their salvage value. Since the housing values have plummeted in the current economic downturn, most houses repair costs far exceed appraised value.
Habitat Detroit is currently working with Wayne County and city of Detroit officials to identify those structures that can be rehabilitated and those that require demolition.