Grand Island Area Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical ministry seeking to help low-income households into better housing environments through new home construction and exterior home repairs. Our aim is to create an environment of hope, dignity and a truly human existence for all people.
What’s the homebuyer selection process?
Prospective homebuyers complete loan applications and submit supporting documentation including utility/phone/cable bills, bank statements, tax returns, employment verification, etc. Selection is determined based on information provided, with debt to income ratios and housing cost burdens taken into account. The application period is open for just a few months each year and is publicly announced.
Do homebuyers really have a mortgage?
Yes. Each home buyer has a loan with Habitat that they are required to pay back. The benefit with a Habitat loan is that it is based on the cost to build and does not have interest accessed. This makes it possible for a low-income household to own their own home.
Is there a requirement for hours worked?
Home buyers commit to completing 500 hours of work on home construction and other projects before they can move into their home. Mandatory financial management and homeowner education is required for all homebuyers. The series of classes is usually 21 weeks.
What is the most common reason for an applicant to be declined?
The most common reason for declining an applicant is poor credit or money management. Other common reasons include having too much or too little income for our program, or unstable income.
Home Design and Construction
Are the designs of the houses set?
Habitat for Humanity has guidelines as to the size of each house built. We also abide by other build requirements. Because of the efficiency of our current floor plans, they are used on all our homes.
What skills do you need on a build site?
The biggest skill anyone can bring to the construction site is eagerness. Although having a skill is a bonus, there are many times when people are needed that can simply measure, carry, cut or organize. Skilled construction people are present on the site to help teach and lead. Jumping in to help is a great skill that novices and professionals can both share.
What is the build process?
The Site Supervisors and Building Committee oversee projects from planning to completion. They work alongside the volunteers to ensure the homes get completed. Typically, a build takes 15 Saturdays, with volunteer groups needed each week to complete the project. In a given year, we typically complete four or five homes, but work on various stages of up to six.
Where do you build homes?
Grand Island Area Habitat for Humanity serves Hall, Hamilton, Howard, and Merrick counties. Because so many factors need to be in place to build a home, we almost exclusively build in Grand Island. A schedule of where homes will be built is usually in place well before homebuyers are selected. Although most homes are built in Grand Island, other programs are available throughout the entire four county service area.
How does the mortgage program work?
Homebuyers purchase the homes they help build alongside community volunteers. Their no-interest loans are based on the cost to build. Payments include taxes and insurance and are managed by a financial institution.
If homeowners move out within the first ten years, they are responsible for all or part of a second mortgage, which is the difference between the market value at time of sale and the cost to build.
Where does the mortgage money go?
Mortgage payments made to Habitat help fund one home construction a year.
Have you ever had homeowners not make house payments?
Our affiliate’s homeowners do an excellent job paying their mortgages on time and in full. In difficult times, we work with those who need to make a payment plan to get caught up.
After the Homebuyers Move In
Do they take care of their homes?
Because they have invested so much time and energy into building homes and learning how to be good home-owners, it is rare to have anyone not take care of their home. As an added incentive, we have an annual curb appeal contest, recognizing homeowner excellence.
Do homeowners help Habitat after they’re in their homes?
Many of our homeowners want to be a part of giving back to their community. Although they have no obligation to help after they purchase their home, many come back again and again to help with construction, food prep, in the office and at special events and fundraisers.
Why do you need my donation if the homeowners pay Habitat back?
Since they are paying Habitat back over 20-30 years, funding is needed for current projects, lot purchases, education, etc. We work on a minimum of four new homes a year, yet the mortgage money coming in each year is only enough to pay for construction of one home.
Where does your funding come from?
Fundraisers, such as Mr. Habitat, the Build a Dream auction and Cans for Habitat (aluminum can recycling) are our most dependable forms of funding. The ReStore is an increasing source of funds to help build, and will continue to grow. Because grant availability is inconsistent, individual donations, plus gifts of building materials and labor are vital.
How do I donate aluminum cans?
Can drop off sites are located in Grand Island and several other communities. For a complete list of area drop sites call 308-385-5510.
Do you take used building items?
The Habitat ReStore accepts new and gently used home improvement products. This “thrift store” sells materials to benefit Habitat. You can visit the store at 3204 W. College or call 308-385-5082.
What are the volunteer opportunities?
Most anyone can volunteer in one way or another. Basic opportunities are outlined on our website. If a person wants to know what opportunities are currently available, they may call the office.
Areas where volunteers can help are with fund raisers and public relations, on the construction sites, at the ReStore, helping home buyers through their transition into homeownership, faith relations, finance, etc. If a person has a specific interest or skill they should call the office to see where that interest or skill may be of use.
How Do We Compare?
How do we compare to other Habitat affiliates across the country?
Habitat for Humanity International has certain rules and regulations that each affiliate must abide by. However, knowing that each community is unique, Habitat also allows for some choices to be made at the local level.
In our service area, we choose our application timeframe and number of sweat equity hours based on our construction schedule. Our rate of home completion and construction efficiency is excellent.
Where we stand out is in the responsibility level and success of our homebuyers. We have a very low rate of late payments and even fewer defaults. Considering the income level of the those we work with, this is a testament to their work as well as the work of our selection process.