How are Partner Families selected?
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 no-interest loan. Every affiliate follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection.
The selection of a partner family begins with the prospective partner family meeting three basic criteria.
Present Living Conditions
The most important consideration for selecting a partner family is lack of adequate shelter, but defining "adequate shelter" can be difficult. Habitat's purpose is not to provide the opportunity for individuals who are renting adequate housing to become homeowners. Considering the enormous problem of substandard housing throughout the world, justifying the expenditure of scarce resources to provide the opportunity for adequately housed people to own their homes is difficult.
One of the benefits of the Habitat organizational structure is that each affiliate is free to be open to and to adjust to unusual circumstances. Ultimately, the only way to determine the adequacy of a family's present living conditions accurately is to visit their home.
The next major selection criterion is the family's income. To qualify for a Habitat house, a family should have adequate income to cover the property taxes, utilities, homeowner's insurance, and house maintenance expenses, as well as the house's mortgage payments. Of course, variables such as family size, tax rates, and food stamp allotments must be taken into consideration. A Habitat home should not be a financial burden to a family, nor should Habitat home create a great likelihood of failure for the family.
Setting an upper limit to the income level of qualified applicants is even more difficult. Obviously, families that earn enough to qualify for a conventional market loan or to rent adequate housing are ineligible for a Habitat house. It is possible to earn a good salary, be able to afford decent rental housing, but with high interest rates and housing costs, still be unable to obtain a conventional loan. For these reasons, developing some guidelines to use is important. Some Habitat projects set a lower income limit of three times the monthly house payment and an upper limit of six times the payment. Another method is to determine an income ceiling based on current United States Department of Health and Human Services poverty income guidelines.
Willingness to Partner
The final criterion to consider in the family selection process is the family's willingness to participate as a partner with Habitat. This participation includes completing sweat equity hours, making timely house payments, and maintaining their home. The Family Selection committee can get an indication of a family's willingness to participate by talking with them and their references. Many affiliates approve a family on a provisional basis and let the family demonstrate their willingness to participate, usually by completing a specified number of sweat equity hours or making a portion of the down payment, before the affiliate gives final approval or starts construction of their house.
Contact Information: Office 209.827.0473 :: Ashlee Williams 209.509.9026