volunteer. buy. thrive.
owning a home
Own a Home
We hold Habitat Homeownership Orientations once a month at 6pm SHARP in the Habitat office (245 N Graham St, Allentown, PA 18109). During the orientation, we will review our homeownership program and will have applications available. You can also stop by the Habitat office to pick up an application. Please click on the button below to sign up for an upcoming Homeownership Orientation:
(applications are being accepted for Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton)ORIENTATION RSVP
Habitat Lehigh Valley’s model is unique, engaging the whole community in the construction of every Habitat home. Habitat partner families get a hand up, not a hand out, as well as the safety and security of owning a home. Habitat homes are affordable due to a small cash down payment, a no-profit 0% interest mortgage, volunteer labor and community support. Habitat for Humanity homeowner mortgage payments are put into a revolving fund that helps pay for the construction of homes for other Lehigh Valley families in need.
Partner families invest 250 hours of “sweat equity” per applicant in the construction of their home, and are responsible for monthly mortgage payments and upkeep of their home. We offer affordable monthly mortgage payments, set at no more than 30 percent of household income at the time of purchase. The average monthly mortgage on a Habitat home is about $750. Selected partner families learn how to build their homes on the construction site and are ultimately better prepared to take on the many maintenance responsibilities as homeowners. Along with building your own home comes the pride of ownership and a significant impact on the future success for Habitat children.
Do I Qualify?
Habitat partner families are carefully selected to ensure that they are well-prepared and qualified for homeownership. Between the selection process and the sweat equity period, it could take 18-24 months to move into a new Habitat home. Applicants complete an extensive selection process, including an in-depth financial review, underwriting analysis and at-home visits. Applicant(s) must be legal US residents and first-time homeowners (must not have owned a home in the last 3 years).
The Family Selection Committee, a group of dedicated Habitat volunteers, selects qualified families on an impartial and non-discriminatory basis. Race, color, gender, national origin, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, age, religion, family composition, and disability are not part of the decision-making process. Applicants are evaluated based on three main areas:
- Ability to pay for the home
- Need for decent, affordable housing
- Willingness to partner with Habitat Lehigh Valley
Ability to Pay
Homeownership is a long-term commitment, so we partner with families who have sufficient annual income to meet the expenses of this investment (house payment, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance). Applicants must demonstrate a history of regular income and must have credit scores of 600 or above.
Generally speaking, Habitat LV partner families fall into the following income ranges. These guidelines are based on family size and are set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Please note that these income guidelines are to give you the minimum and maximum gross income applicants can make to qualify for our program.
*Please note the above income guidelines are for 2017 and are subject to change each year.
To calculate income, we consider all earnings (wages, seasonal work, social security, child support, etc.) for every adult member (18-years-old or older) in the household. Additionally, your debt cannot exceed 43% of your current income.
Need for Housing
Selected families must demonstrate a need for adequate shelter. Some examples of this are overcrowded housing; dilapidated, unstable or unsafe housing; or rental payment exceeding 30% of the household income. The mortgage of a Habitat home does not exceed 30% of your annual income.
Willingness to Partner
Habitat Lehigh Valley homeowners are partners throughout the selection and building processes. As such, each family is evaluated on their willingness to cooperate with homeownership guidelines during the approval phase and their commitment to do 250 hours of “sweat equity” per adult after they are fully approved. Sweat Equity is primarily done by working on the construction of their or their neighbor’s home and is at the heart of the Habitat homeownership program. The work varies and construction experience is not necessary.
It will take dedication, and sometimes sacrifice, in order to reach this goal, but the experience is a rewarding one. It is an opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people as you help build your home and the homes of your future neighbors!
Partnership with Habitat extends beyond building homes. Part of the sweat equity commitment involves attending a homeowner education seminar so that partner families have the skills to be successful homeowners, neighbors, and community leaders. After moving in, partner families are expected to remain active and engaged with Habitat’s mission by staying in good communication with Habitat and, of course, by making timely mortgage payments so Habitat can build more houses! It is expected that homeowners work with their neighbors to support healthy, safe and inspiring neighborhoods where partner families learn, grow and thrive together.
How To Apply
Step 1. Do you qualify? Habitat Lehigh Valley builds houses along with families who demonstrate a need for housing , the ability to pay a mortgage and also a willingness to partner.
Step 2. Attend a Homeowner Orientation or stop by the Habitat office to obtain an application.
Step 3. Submit Application for a Habitat Home. At this point we gather any additional information and documentation needed and submit your application for verification and approval. List of needed documentation is attached to the end of the application.
Step 4. If you are qualified, you will be approved for the homeownership program. Congratulations! You’ve made it through the application process and are on your way to homeownership!
Step 5. The Chief Relationship Officer and your newly assigned mentor will have a Partnership Agreement meeting.
Step 6. Sweat Equity and Education: You will attend the Homebuyer’s Seminar and begin your 250 hours of sweat equity. Sweat equity is an exciting learning experience in which you work to build other families’ homes before starting on your own. Hours can be earned on the construction sites, at the ReStore or in the office.
Step 7. Home Assignment: After completing 50 hours of your required sweat equity, you are eligible for property assignment in your desired neighborhood where Habitat Lehigh Valley is currently building.
Step 8. Home Construction: Your home begins, and you will complete your sweat equity!
Step 9. Home Dedication: Habitat staff, volunteers, and donors who have been with you every step of the way gather with your family and friends to dedicate your new home!
Step 10. Lifetime Partnership: After we close on the house, you move in! Partner families are expected to remain engaged with Habitat’s mission by staying in good communication with Habitat, making timely mortgage payments, and assuming an active role in their neighborhoods and as mentors to new families entering the process. The application process takes roughly 3-6 months. The sweat equity requirement takes 9-12 months. It generally takes about 1.5 years to complete the entire process, from the date of the application to the house closing.