Habitat Frequently Asked Questions
What is the mission of Habitat for Humanity of Dane County (Habitat Dane)? Bringing the community together to build homes with God’s people in need.
What is the vision of Habitat Dane? Habitat for Humanity of Dane County will be a recognized leader, partner, and catalyst for affordable housing solutions that positively impact families, communities, and the environment.
How long has Habitat been building in Dane County? Habitat Dane was formed in 1987 and completed its first home in partnership with the Howe Family in 1988. We have been building homes for 25 years!
How does Habitat work? Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner (partner) families. Habitat homes are sold to partner families at no profit, and are financed with affordable, no-interest loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments “pay it forward”- they are used to build more Habitat houses.
Does Habitat for Humanity give homes away? No, Habitat is not a charity or a “hand-out” program. In addition to a down payment and the monthly mortgage payments, taxes and insurance, homeowners invest their own labor — sweat equity — into building their Habitat house and the homes of others. Applicants are required to put in a minimum of 375 sweat equity hours for a two-adult household and 325 sweat equity hours for a one adult household. Each applicant must also attend educational courses on how to maintain a home, landscaping, budgeting and credit.
How are homeowners selected? Qualifying applicants must be legal residents of the United States or Permanent Resident Alien Status, have three years positive and verifiable housing history, good credit, and a household income no higher than 60% of the Dane County median income. A volunteer family selection committee reviews all qualified applicants and follows a non-discriminatory selection process, based on housing need, ability to repay the loan and the ability to partner with Habitat.
Does a Habitat house lower neighborhood property values? No. Habitat Homes are sold to our partner families for market value and meet all municipality standards and neighborhood convenants.
What Types of Families Does Habitat Partner With in Their Program? We build houses with people in need, without regard to race or familial status. The U.S. Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in the sale of housing on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, handicap, familial status or national origin. The covenant that all local Habitat affiliates sign with Habitat for Humanity International also specifies that Habitat homeowner families are selected “according to criteria that do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, familial status or ethnic background.”
Do you have to be a Christian to become a Habitat homeowner? Habitat for Humanity was founded as and is a Christian ministry. However, homeowners are chosen without regard to race, creed or nationality-following the requirements of the law as well as Habitat’s belief that God’s love extends to all. Habitat also welcomes volunteers from all faiths- or no faith-who actively embrace the goal of eliminating poverty housing from the world.
How is Habitat for Humanity of Dane County funded? Habitat is funded by the generosity of numerous individuals, groups and organizations. Contributions from individuals, faith organizations, businesses, foundations, Habitat for Humanity of Dane County ReStore, United Way, and monthly mortgage payments from Habitat homeowners fund Habitat projects. In-kind donations of construction materials, services, and construction site lunches are also accepted and greatly appreciated.
Why do you need donations if homes are built with volunteer labor and the homeowners? Volunteers help us keep the cost of homes affordable to our partner families. However, it costs about $90,000 to build a home, which includes building materials. Additional costs include the cost of the lot and staff that help with the family selection process, construction and more.
How many homes has Habitat for Humanity of Dane County completed? In 2012 Habitat will be building with our 200th partner family!
What type of homes do we build? We build and renovate a mix of single family houses, townhomes and duplexes that are simple, decent and affordable.
How does Habitat benefit the community? We build communities with the benefits of new homes rippling through neighborhoods. Studies show that families who own their own home:
- § Spend more time and money to improve their home
- § Take a more active role in their neighborhoods
- § Participate more fully in churches, civic groups and charities
- § Present a lesser drain on municipal services than do renters
How do people apply for Habitat for Humanity homes? Families that are interested in becoming a Habitat homeowner must attend a Habitat Informational Meeting that are held quarterly in January, April, July and October.