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Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives! Who qualifies for a habitat home?

Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives!
Who qualifies for a habitat home?
by William L. Bulla

How are homeowners chosen? Who qualifies? Let me share the basic rules with you. If you are not a candidate, you may know of someone who may qualify.
Applicants must be a resident of Washington County for at least one-year, and in need of decent housing. Many families are living in substandard, over-crowded housing. Some facilities have no heat, unsafe utilities, structural problems and dangerous neighborhoods.
Applicants cannot be able to obtain a home mortgage through regular means. But, applicants income must fall within certain guidelines and must be able to repay the no-interest loan Habitat will provide. Credit problems can be worked out to become manageable and acceptable.
Applicants must be willing to partner with Habitat, agreeing to complete 500 hours of sweat equity, part of which can be donated by friends and family.
Applicants must agree to work with the Family Partners Committee to learn responsible homeownership skills (budgeting, understanding insurance, maintenance, etc.)
Applicants must understand that an in-depth investigation will be conducted by the Family Selection Committee to determine actual need, ability to pay for a Habitat house, acceptable credit, and willingness to partner. This will include a review of the past two years Federal Income Tax Returns.
If applicants meet the initial qualifications and are being considered for a home, they will be asked to work a set number of volunteer hours as part of the selection criteria. This "good faith" volunteer work not only shows Habitat the level of the family's commitment, but also allows the family to determine if they are able to work with Habitat.
Selection is a long and involved process, but one necessary for both parties to know each other well before undertaking the commitment of partnership and homeownership.
Eligible families should contact Habitat for Humanity of Washington County by calling 301-791-9009 to receive an information packet. Your next step will be to make an application by contacting the office and making an appointment. The application will be reviewed to verify income, current housing situation, residency, and credit history. The Family Selection Committee will visit your present home to interview you and review your current housing situation.
The findings of the Family Selection Committee will then be presented to the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors for approval. Once approved, the family becomes eligible for a future Habitat home.
While this procedure is going on to select families, Habitat for Humanity of Washington County is continuing to look for affordable land, develop sponsors to fund building the homes, make contacts with suppliers to donate materials, and contractors to donate skilled labor to guide Habitat's many unskilled volunteers.
Anyone able to make such a contribution may contact Habitat's Executive Director, Sherry Brown Cooper by calling 301-791-9009.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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