Housing Services FAQ
Some of our most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about our programs and housing services are answered here. You’ll find information about:
Eligibility and Qualification
- Do you give away homes to people who are poor, disabled or on welfare?
- Do I have to have children to qualify for a Habitat House?
Ownership of a Habitat House
- If I buy a Habitat house, can I ever sell it?
- Are there any other restrictions on owning a Habitat House?
- If my income increases after I have bought my house, will that affect my status?
- What happens if I can’t work due to illness/injury, or have my hours cut, and can’t pay my mortgage?
Building a Habitat House
- If I want to add more space or bedrooms than Habitat’s guidelines allow, can I do that?
- Can I have a garage or carport added to a Habitat house?
- If I own land, can Habitat build a house on it?
- How does Habitat decide where to build? Can I ask for a specific location?
- How long is it from the time I apply for a home until I close and move in?
- How long does it take to receive repairs if I am accepted into the program?
- I received repair assistance from another agency in Henry/Clayton/Fayette County, but I sill need work done on my house. Can Southern Crescent Habitat help?
- I do not qualify for home repair through Southern Crescent Habitat. Who can I contact for assistance?
- What is sweat equity?
- Why do I have to perform sweat equity if I am paying for (a portion of) home repair?
- I am disabled and cannot do manual labor. Can I still apply?
Eligibility and Qualification
Do you give away homes to people who are poor, disabled or on welfare?
No. Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity (SCHFH) is both a builder and a mortgage company. All applicants who qualify for a home must have a steady source of income for two years, from working and/or non-working sources, and must repay a 0% interest 15-30 year mortgage with on-time, in-full payments each and every month.
Do I have to have children to qualify for a Habitat House?
No. Habitat is a Fair Housing agency, which means we do not discriminate based on race/color, religion, sex/gender, national origin, disability, or familial status. Thus, our program is open to all household types including individuals, couples, single parents with children, couples with children, etc.
Ownership of a Habitat House
If I buy a Habitat house, can I ever sell it?
Yes. Families who purchase Habitat-built homes can sell them at any time. Habitat retains a “right of first refusal” that requires a homeowner who wants to sell his/her house ask SCHFH if it wants to purchase the house for the same contracted price. To date, we have never exercised this right. Just like any other homeowner, selling a house typically requires marketing it through a real estate broker (including paying commission), continuing to pay one’s mortgage until it is sold, and living in it for several years before there’s enough equity to “make money” on it.
Are there any other restrictions on owning a Habitat House?
Yes. Like all other affordable housing programs, we require that its houses are homeowner occupied. This means that you cannot use it for business purposes, move out and leave it empty, rent it out, or move out and let others live there instead. After a homeowner has fully paid off the mortgage, these restrictions are removed. And, like all other mortgage companies, Habitat requires that the property (house and yard) are maintained in good condition.
If my income increases after I have bought my house, will that affect my status?
No. Habitat encourages all of its homeowners to continually improve their financial status through additional education, training, or job promotions/changes that provide better pay, hours and/or locations. Our hopes are that having a stable home will free up time and energy to pursue additional opportunities. We’ve had homeowners who have consistently paid their mortgages, continued to work and returned to school for certifications or degrees to increase their earnings.
What happens if I can’t work due to illness/injury, or have my hours cut, and can’t pay my mortgage?
Our staff works directly with homeowners if they cannot pay their mortgage due to temporary or permanent changes in income. Habitat meets with homeowners to better understand the circumstances and puts plans in place to get payments back on track. We work with each of our homeowners who have the commitment, follow-through and resources to help them keep their houses.
Building a Habitat House
If I want to more space or bedrooms than Habitat’s guidelines allow, can I do that?
No. We build houses according to the number of family members in a household. Our homes are affordable, energy efficient and provide adequate living and storage space for most families. Our 3-bedroom houses are typically around 1300 square feet and have two full bathrooms.
Can I have a garage or carport added to a Habitat house?
No. We do not build garages or carports unless the local ordinances require us to do so. We purchase lots that are large enough to build a house with a 2-car parking pad, but there is not additional room for these other features. Also, the weather in Atlanta is typically mild so that many houses throughout this area have parking pads for vehicles. A 10′-wide concrete driveway will be provided. If a garage is not required by county or municipal code, the driveway will approach the house at an area where a garage could be constructed in the future if lot size and conditions allow.
If I own land, can Habitat build a house on it?
Maybe. Our program is for first-time homeowners – anyone who has not owned a house in three years, or ever. If you own land in Clayton, Henry, or Fayette County, we might be able to construct a home on it, but our construction department will need to evaluate it. But, more importantly, you will need to apply to and be approved for our homeownership program in the exact same manner as all other applicants. Only after you’ve met our homeownership program criteria will we look at this possibility.
How does Habitat decide where to build? Can I ask for a specific location?
Habitat acquires land either through purchase or donation so we have limited areas where we build. In addition, within our affiliate service area we have seen escalating land prices, increased house sizes, and reduced land availability that have made finding and purchasing land even more difficult. Applicants who want to be part of our program will need to be open about the location of their future homes, and willing to live where we are currently building. Applicants will need to choose a location based on the current/upcoming construction sites at the time they apply.
How long is it from the time I apply for a home until I close and move in?
Typically, families close on and move into their homes about 18-24 months after their initial application is submitted. Since our program relies on sponsors to fund houses and community volunteers to help construct them, this timeframe is an estimate. This timeframe allows applicants to plan for their move, complete the sweat equity hours required by our program (a minimum of 250), and participate fully in the construction of their own homes.
How long does it take to receive repairs if I am accepted into the program?
It can take between 3 to 12 months from application to project completion.
I received repair assistance from another agency in Henry/Clayton/Fayette County, but I still need work done on my house. Can Southern Crescent Habitat help?
It depends. If a homeowner received assistance within the past five years from a repair program with the same funding sources as ours, they may be ineligible for repairs through Southern Crescent Habitat. That being said, funding sources and program guidelines change annually. If a homeowner is in need of additional assistance they should call Liz Duncan, our Chief Operating Officer, to discuss their options. You can reach Liz at 770.477.2367 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I do not qualify for home repair through Southern Crescent Habitat. Who can I contact for assistance?
We recommend 2-1-1, a program of United Way of Greater Atlanta that connects people to the assistance they need to address every day challenges of living as well as those that develop during times of community emergencies. Visit http://211online.unitedwayatlanta.org/search.aspx for more information.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also offers assistance in the state of Georgia. Visit http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/georgia/homeownership/homerepairs for more information.
Sweat equity is the term we use for the hours of labor our homeowners dedicate to repairing their homes and the homes of their neighbors, as well as the time they spend investing in their own self-improvement through home education courses.
Why do I have to perform sweat equity if I am paying for (a portion of) home repair?
Habitat for Humanity is an organization which provides a hand up and not a hand out. Our home repairs are carried out with volunteer efforts and the financial assistance of local supporters. This allows us to do repairs at a lower cost than if a homeowner was to hire a contractor or licensed professional on one’s own. Sweat equity is a way for homeowners to partner with our local supporters who are helping to make home repair more affordable.
I am disabled and cannot do manual labor. Can I still apply?
Yes. If you are selected for the program and have a disability, we will work with you to find other ways for you to participate and gain the required hours of sweat equity.