Approved applicants must be willing to fulfill all the partnership requirements for Habitat homeownership, and willingness to partner is much more than willingness to hammer (sweat-equity). Below is a detailed description of the required sweat-equity and other willingness to partner criteria.
Sweat equity is a core tenet of Habitat’s ministry. It is Habitat’s most valuable tool in building the partnership among families, HFHPCA staff members and volunteers. The term refers to the hands-on involvement of prospective homeowners in the construction of their homes and in other Habitat and community activities. Through sweat equity, the applicant has an opportunity to invest physically and emotionally in the mission of Habitat.
Acceptance Of HFHPCA’s Sweat-Equity Requirements
Acceptance of the sweat-equity requirement is seen as an indicator of the applicant’s willingness to partner. Families work on their home alongside other volunteers as they pound nails, paint, hang drywall, etc. Measurable and realistic requirements for sweat equity must be established. HFHPCA’s sweat-equity policy must be communicated to the applicant early in the application process. This includes placing specific information regarding sweat-equity requirements in:
- Any brochures distributed to prospective applicants.
- A cover letter for the Pre-Qualification Form.
- All other relevant documents.
It is imperative that the sweat-equity requirements are explained and expectations are set so the applicant understands and can agree to this component of Willingness to Partner. The applicant must understand that they are required to complete a total of 300-350 sweat-equity hours, consisting of :
- 100 hours of homeowner education:
- HFHPCA requires that 50 pre-build sweat-equity hours be completed before construction begins on the house. Thirty-six of those hours will come from homeowner education courses and the remaining 14 will be from other opportunities.
- HFHPCA strongly encourages other adults living in the home to contribute sweat-equity hours during the house build.
- All homeowner education sweat-equity hours are required to be completed before the loan closing.
- 200 hours of house construction work:
- If there is a co-applicant, we will require a total of 250 construction sweat-equity hours to be completed.
- Extended family and friends can complete up to 50 hours. For each hour extended family and friends work, the total number of your construction hours will be reduced by an hour.
- The construction sweat-equity hours must be completed by the end of the build period, as determined by HFHPCA’s Board of Directors.
- Individuals with disabilities can perform sweat-equity according to their limitations, as long as it does not become a safety issue for them or others on the job site.
- Sweat-equity construction hours can only be earned during scheduled constructions times. There will not be opportunities to work construction sweat-equity hours during non-scheduled days or after the end of the build, period as determined by HFHPCA Board of Directors.
- Children under the age of 16 are not eligible to perform sweat-equity hours. For safety reasons they cannot be brought to the work site.
- There are no required construction skills necessary to work on the house.
Although sweat equity is a programmatic requirement, it is not in any way meant to be a test for prospective homeowners to pass or fail. Rather, sweat equity is an exciting cornerstone to the Habitat ministry, designed to meet three important goals:
- Partnership: Sweat equity provides meaningful interaction among families, HFHPCA representatives and Habitat volunteers.
- Pride in homeownership: Working sweat-equity hours in their own homes helps families begin the transition to ownership.
- Development of skills and knowledge: On the build site, homeowner partners gain a real understanding of the construction of their home and of maintenance issues they will face after occupancy.
Other Potential Willingness to Partner Criteria
- Attends in-person interview with HFHPCA Homeowner Selection Committee Member(s).
- Provides all application information in a timely, honest manner and pays the $27.50 per applicant processing fee.
- Discloses financial information including employment history, income, total assets and debt.
- Submits to credit checks, including searches for bankruptcies, judgments or liens.
- Submits to a criminal and sex offender background check as well as an OFAC check.
- Participates in the home visit.
- Meets all sweat-equity requirements.
- Participates in education sessions.
- Has a plan to save for and agrees to pay a down payment for the home.
- Avoids new consumer debt during this process.
- Lives where HFHPCA has land to build.
- Notifies HFHPCA of any change in family composition.
- Notifies HFHPCA of loss of income.
- Notifies HFHPCA of changes in contact information.
- Agrees to maintain the home.
- Agrees to pay the monthly mortgage without default.
- Provides contact information for landlords, employers, etc.
- Keeps all appointments.
- Provides changes in applicant contact information.