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March 28, 2024

Is That True? Facts Behind 11 Common Myths About Habitat for Humanity

Have you heard something about Habitat for Humanity and wonder if it’s true or not? When organizations have been around as long as us, some misconceptions are bound to arise! Here are eleven examples of typical myths associated with us; learn the truth behind common myths about Habitat for Humanity.

  1. Myth: Habitat gives away homes for free.

Truth: Our mission is sustainable wealth building instead of gifting free homes. Qualified homeowners partner with Habitat for access to some of the best mortgages available, which families pay monthly. In order to qualify to become a Habitat homeowner, applicants must have a need for housing, be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency status, meet income requirements, and be willing to put hours toward financial education and construction of homes. What makes Houston Habitat for Humanity homeownership affordable is access to down payment assistance funds and mortgages designed to ensure families do not pay more than 30% of their household income.

  1. Myth: Habitat Homes reduce neighborhood property values.

Truth: Numerous studies continuously show that affordable housing does not negatively affect neighborhood property values. In fact, Habitat houses provide local government tax income and increased property values because Habitat homes are on the tax rolls and our projects often encourage nearby homeowners to improve their own properties as well!

  1. Myth: Only adults with construction experience can volunteer.

Truth: Anyone aged 16 years or older who is interested in lending a hand can register to volunteer. No previous experience is required; we will teach you what you need to know. In addition to website training resources, the first day onsite has a safety orientation and introduction to the projects of the day. Next, volunteers are gathered in small teams and paired with an experienced staff member who walks through each task, teaching skills and safety along the way. Houston Habitat volunteers are recognized with awards based on total hours accumulated.

  1. Myth: Habitat Homes lack quality of construction and are made of cheap materials.

Truth: All homes built by Houston Habitat meet or surpass every city building code , and are not sold to the new homeowner until each home passes stringent inspections by official inspectors. In addition, each home passes Energy Star inspection, meaning the home is energy efficient. General work is completed by volunteers who are trained and supervised by Habitat staff, while trade work such as electrical, roofing, and plumbing are done by licensed professionals. Regarding materials, Houston Habitat resources quality materials with local and national vendors, many of which provide Habitat with cost savings or donations in agreement with our commitment to quality of construction. “Our families are hardworking families, they deserve a safe, healthy place,” said Allison Hay, Chief Executive Officer of Houston Habitat for Humanity, recently.

  1. Myth: Owning a Habitat home is more expensive than renting.

Truth: Since Houston Habitat mortgages are capped at 30% of a homeowner’s income, many potential homeowners come into the program paying much more of their income on rent than they end up paying for a mortgage. Although additional costs are often associated with homeownership, Houston Habitat homes are Energy Star certified and use WaterSense fixtures reducing water usage keeping with the goal of affordability.

  1. Myth: Habitat is a government organization.

Truth: While Habitat does accept some government funds and property, it is not a government organization or an arm of the city, state or federal government. Rather, Houston Habitat is an independent nonprofit organization and an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, with a specific service area that includes the city of Houston and the majority of Harris County.

  1. Myth: Owning a home just isn’t that important.

Truth: Study after study has proven the positive effects of homeownership on individuals and families. Benefits include physical and mental health improvements, reduced stress, and academic success. One example, according to a survey of more than 400 Habitat families in metro Denver, showed children raised in a Habitat home were twice as likely to go to college. Read here about one person whose life turned around from poverty after settling in a Habitat Home: James’ Story.

  1. Myth: Habitat Homes are restricted to minorities or practicing Christians.

Truth: Houston Habitat follows a nondiscriminatory policy of home ownership and abides by the regulations of the Fair Housing Act. No race, ethnicity or religion is given preference when becoming a Habitat family partner. Habitat for Humanity was founded as a Christian housing ministry, however, anyone can partner with Habitat. We do not discriminate based on race, religion, nation of origin, gender, sexual orientation, family status, marital status or any other protected classes. Equal Housing Opportunity: We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation.

  1. Myth: If an owner passes away before the home is paid off or can’t make their mortgage payments, Habitat can repossess the home and sell it to whomever.

Truth: On the rare occasion that a Habitat homeowner is struggling to make mortgage payments, our mortgage services staff reaches out to assess the situation. Our team can help those behind on payments through various mortgage assistance programs to put them back on track. Should a homeowner need to sell their Habitat home, Houston Habitat has the right of first refusal which means they must offer the home to Habitat for purchase first. If our organization chooses not to buy the house, they can sell to other interested parties but they must meet the same income requirements as Habitat family partners, 50-80% AMI (Area Median Income). This ensures the Habitat home continues to remain affordable and keeps the homes out of the hands of investors.

  1. Myth: Habitat came to my door and wanted into my property.

Truth: Habitat for Humanity never goes door to door. Anyone who arrives at the house without an established appointment is not affiliated with Houston Habitat for Humanity and should not be given access. There have been instances of people pretending to be Habitat staff, and even wearing Habitat shirts. Houston Habitat staff will not come to your home without prior established appointment. You may call our office at 713-671-9993 to double check the identity of the individual at your door.

  1. Myth: Habitat for Humanity only builds new homes.

Truth: Although building single-family homes is a big part of our mission, Houston Habitat also provides homebuyer and financial education classes for prospective homeowners on a range of topics. Our organization also provides repair programs for Seniors and Veterans. In times of disaster, Houston Habitat has performed extensive Disaster Repair helping those impacted get back into safe healthy homes. Recently, Houston Habitat began to rehab homes to make them suitable for purchase with the same great quality of our new construction homes. We also build playhouses for children of Habitat homeowners and Veteran families! Further, Houston Habitat also has two stores you can purchase items for your home or repairs. Learn more and visit our Houston Habitat ReStores.

Did all of your myths get busted? Do you have other questions or thoughts about how Houston Habitat for Humanity works? Receive news directly and follow us on Facebookand Instagram for pictures and project updates to see for yourself!

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