We are asked on a regular basis, "How can I get a Habitat House?" and, "How can I get on the waiting list for a Habitat House?" and "How quickly can you get me into a Habitat house?" To help those interested in a Habitat Home, I'd like to share what makes a successful Habitat for Humanity Partner Family.
First off, we do not have homes that are built and sitting ready for a family. One of the basic tenets of Habitat for Humanity is that you must put in 400 hours of Sweat Equity time in building your home. This is imperative and mandatory. You may ask family members, coworkers, members of your church or an organization you belong to to assist in earning those hours but there is no short cut to this process.
Second, we do not maintain a waiting list of names. We do an Open Application period each fall, typically in September or October. Those interested in applying for a Habitat Home need to come to the office during that time, or call and we will happily mail an application to you. We advertise in the newspaper, the radio, the television. Promote it on a variety of area online calendars, as well as our Facebook page. We hang flyers around town and notify various agencies in the North Platte area. We make every effort to reach out to those who might qualify.
Speaking of qualifications, we have four criteria for applying:
You must live and/or work in North Platte for at least one year.
You must, as noted above, be able to complete 400 hours of Sweat Equity time.
You must be able to pay a mortgage of $400 - $500 per month, this includes insurance and property taxes.
You must be in need of adequate housing
If you meet all four of these criteria you will be given an opportunity to apply. Successful applicants will fill out the Application completely. In the past, if sections of the application were left blank, we've taken the time to get in touch with the applicant to find out the missing information. But we no longer do that. If the applicant is truly interested in having an opportunity at a Habitat Home, they will take the time to complete the application.
If selected, then the real work begins.
You will be required to take at least 35 hours of Homeowner Education classes including Budgeting, Appliance maintenance and care, Lawn maintenance and care, History of Habitat among them. If you do not complete these education classes, you may not receive your home.
You will be required to work on your home as well as your neighbor's home in order to complete the 400 hours of Sweat Equity hours. This requirement is twofold, in addition to working on your homes, you will be building a relationship with your neighbors. This is a very important component to being a good neighbor. Four hundred hours can seem like a lot and it is. So are the number of hours the volunteers in this community are putting in toward the construction of your home. A successful homeowner is grateful for that hard work and effort from those they may not know by coming to work days and bringing friends, coworkers and loved ones along with them to join us in the fellowship that is Habitat for Humanity.
You are expected to work with the construction crew on building, the staff of Habitat for Humanity in marketing our work and thanking donors as well as volunteers. It is all part of the process.
Successful homeowners work with their Partner Family Advocate throughout the construction phase and beyond to insure their success. Regular meetings with your advocate to discuss your concerns, fears, excitement and all those other feelings you are experiencing will only help you. They are their for your benefit, make sure you are meeting and communicating with them regularly.
Once your home is built, the work doesn't stop. You will need to prepare for moving into your home by hand addressing Thanks you's and Dedication Invitations. By hand addressing these items you show those receiving them that you put in the time to make sure they know how appreciative you are. You will also be attending the closing meeting where you complete all the paperwork necessary for you to purchase the home. You will also need to attend the Dedication Ceremony where you will receive the keys to your new home.
Congratulations! You are now a Habitat for Humanity Homeowner. You are a member of a very exclusive club. Not everyone gets in.
You are now going asked to represent Habitat for Humanity in a respectful manner by maintaining the home that has been built for and by you. Taking care of the yard in a way that shows respect for your home and your new neighborhood. You must do this day after day, year after year, through the entire time you own your home.
After hearing all this...do you think you have what it takes to be a Habitat for Humanity Homeowner?