What is the first step toward Habitat home ownership?
LaPorte County Habitat for Humanity takes applications for partner families during a limited time each year, usually during the month of January. The path to home ownership begins by completing an application and returning it to the LaPorte County Habitat for Humanity office, located at 225 East Garfield Street, or mailing it to P.O. Box 8874, Michigan City, IN 46361-8874. Please note that applications submitted outside of this designated period will not be accepted.
How does the selection process work?
The first step of the process is to demonstrate that you are ready for the financial responsibility of home ownership.To do this, we collect documentation, references, verification forms, and a credit report.
Close attention is paid to outstanding collections, debts, and any unpaid judgments (judgments must be satisfied before the family can purchase a home).
All adults who will be residing in the home must agree to a criminal and sexual offender background check.
If you meet initial screening, income and financial requirements, there will be a home visit. Here the Committee is looking for your need for housing and willingness to be an active partner with Habitat throughout the program.
The Selection Committee then determines your eligibility and presents selected families to the Board of Directors for approval and acceptance.
What if my credit report shows outstanding collections, debt, bankruptcies, judgments, or liens?
We do not look for perfect credit. We consider your whole picture and look for applicants who are ready to accept the responsibility of home ownership. At the same time, we do not want to put you in a home that you cannot afford or in a situation where you cannot be a successful home owner.
You are highly encouraged to develop a plan of action to resolve outstanding credit issues before you apply.
What can I do to prepare for applying?
If you would like to get a head start, you can request a free credit report online. By doing so, you can begin to address outstanding credit issues. We also encourage you to seek free financial counseling and prepare a family budget if you do not already have one.
What does “need for housing” mean?
“Need for housing” can mean a few different things. If the Selection Committee determines any of these apply, you meet this requirement. The home visit is part of this evaluation process.
Substandard Housing: There are issues that create health and/or safety problems (mold, unsafe neighborhood, poor heating or plumbing, etc.), or too few bedrooms for the number, ages, and gender of household members.
Temporary Housing: Temporary living arrangements or transitional/subsidized housing.
Housing that is too expensive: 50% or more of the income is being spent for total housing costs (rent and necessary utilities, i.e., water, sewer, trash removal, gas and electricity).
What is Sweat Equity?
The third key element that factors into your application is your willingness to partner with Habitat in the construction of your home and beyond.
Sweat Equity plays a large role in this.Sweat Equity is the time and effort you contribute toward the purchase of you home through the construction of others’ homes as well as your own. It is a central principle in Habitat’s mission of building community and partnering with families to provide “not a hand-out, but a hand-UP!”
Following approval of the selection committee, you must complete the required number of sweat equity hours, but more important than the number of hours, is your consistent, active participation on the job site. It is highly recommended that families complete a significant number of hours before construction begins on their own home. 250 hours total per adult is required before moving into your home.
How long does the process take?
The application process takes time and perseverance.
Once approved for the program you begin earning your Sweat Equity hours by contributing to your own and other Habitat projects and saving for closing costs. It may take up to a year to complete and move into your own new home. You will be expected to bring a minimum of $2,000 to closing on your home.
What if I don’t know anything about construction?
We do not require any previous skills or knowledge. Sweat equity is an exciting learning experience in which you work with your family, friends, and community to build other peoples’ homes as well as your own. Working alongside volunteers and future neighbors to build your home and community is one of the most unique, empowering, and rewarding aspects of Habitat for Humanity. Your experience in building your home will also enable you to more confidently maintain your home.
If I’m denied, can I reapply?
Absolutely. The Family Selection Committee does their best to refer you to the tools and resources available to help you improve your situation.
Some of our homeowner families were denied the first time they applied due to outstanding collections and debts, income below our limits, recent bankruptcies, or other issues. They successfully improved their eligibility, reapplied, and were accepted into the program.