Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How do I qualify to be a Habitat homeowner?
A. To qualify for the program, applicants must meet four basic requirements:
Residency: Applicants must be legal U. S. residents, who have lived or worked in northern Beaufort County for a minimum of six months prior to application.
Need: Applicants must be currently living in substandard housing, which can mean it is overcrowded, in poor repair, in an unsafe neighborhood, or overpriced. If the applicant is living with friends or relatives, or is homeless, that can be taken into consideration.
Ability to Pay: Applicants must have a low income, but still able to afford a Habitat mortgage payment. We use a scale of 60% of the median income for Beaufort County based on family size. For example, in 2011, a family of four must make between $22,000 and $41,340 per year in verifiable and sustainable income. In addition, we do a credit check to make sure the applicant is responsible with his/her credit. We don’t expect it to be perfect, but a poor credit history is taken into account.
Willingness to Partner: Applicants must be willing to partner with Habitat in our mission. All homeowners are required to contribute “sweat equity” volunteer time on their own home, other Habitat homes and at the ReStore. A single-adult family must complete 250 hours of sweat equity; a two-adult family must complete 400 hours.
Q. Where do I fill out an application?
A. Applications are only distributed at Family Orientation Meetings, which are held on an as needed basis. These meetings explain the homeowner program in detail and provide an opportunity for applicants to ask questions. Please call the office to get your name on the list to be contacted about when the next Family Orientation Meeting will be held. We send out postcards about a month in advance. You must attend an orientation meeting to be considered for our program.
Q. Where do you build homes?
A. We build homes on land in northern Beaufort County (north of the Broad River). To date, we have built homes in Beaufort, Garden’s Corner, St. Helena and Port Royal.
Q. Are the homes free?
A. No. All homeowners pay for their homes with a no-interest, no-profit mortgage. Mortgage payments are designed to be affordable, based on the homeowners current income.
Q. Do I have to do all of the Sweat Equity myself?
A. No. In fact, homeowners are encouraged to ask their friends, family, and church members for help with some of the 250-400 hours of Sweat Equity required of our partners.
Q. What does decent, affordable housing mean?
A. We do all we can to keep our construction costs low. Our goal is to set the monthly mortgage payment at no more than one-third of the homeowner’s gross income. The higher the housing cost, the higher the income bracket needs to be to keep the homes affordable.
Q. If I’m selected for the program, can I choose the size and style of the home?
A. No. We build from a selection of Habitat floor plans. We choose the floor plan best suited for a piece of land and appropriateness for the family. We also occasionally rehabilitate homes.