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A Very Special Father’s Day: Welcome Home

June is National Homeownership Month, and we have all learned over the last few years how important homeownership is as our homes have become our workplaces, schools for our children and safe harbors in which we’ve weathered the toughest moments of a global pandemic.

This year, Houston Habitat is celebrating the joy of homeownership and fatherhood with this profile of our most recent homeowner and father: Jacoby George.

As a single father, Jacoby George’s main purpose in life has been to provide a happy and stable home for his three children: Jacoby (age 17), Jacob (age 14) and Jennae (age 10).  On Tuesday, April 19, that purpose was fulfilled as he cut the ribbon in front of his Houston Habitat for Humanity home.

Homeownership has been a “life goal” for George, as he began his partnership with Houston Habitat in November 2021.  George literally dug into the process as he began putting in the necessary hours to become a homeowner include including financial education courses and participating in sweat equity — helping to build homes for others. The whole family was dedicated to the effort with son Jacobi also assisting with sweat equity efforts by picking up his own hammer. (Note: volunteers must be 16 years old to participate on a Houston Habitat build) In January, alongside volunteers from UTHealth Houston and UT Physicians, he learned his hard work and dedication had paid off.

“I was shocked. I had no idea I was actually building my own home that day,” recalled George.

Less than a year after being accepted into the program, Jacoby and his family now have a completed home for their home and eagerly await their closing and move-in date. With four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a spacious living area, there’s plenty of room to make memories and grow. George is also aware that studies have drawn a pathway between owning a decent, affordable and stable home and experiencing positive educational outcomes for his children. Stable home environments raise children’s math and reading test scores, making affordable homeownership a conduit for greater residential stability.1  

While the benefits of educational stability are important to George, his children are more focused on their new rooms! “We are so happy to receive this blessing,” he said. “My family and I are so happy. This is a great way to start off the year. Came from nothing and now God has blessed me and family with a home,” said George, “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

Lisa L. Mohanty and Lakshmi K. Raut, “Home Ownership and School Outcomes of Children: Evidence from the PSID Child Development Supplement,” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 68.2 (2009), 465–90.

Why mortgage calculators don’t work for low-income families

Many first-time homebuyers turn to a mortgage calculator to see if they can afford to buy a home. Mortgage calculators help you estimate your monthly mortgage payment including principal and interest, property taxes and insurance. For many low-income people using a mortgage calculator immediately ends their journey to becoming a homeowner.

Houston Habitat for Humanity is committed to partnering with families to help them buy affordable homes. We are not an online tool, but real people who are here to partner with those families that are most in need.  Here are some ways that Houston Habitat for Humanity can help you secure an affordable home and with an affordable mortgage:

Why do I need a mortgage? Aren’t Habitat for Humanity homes free?

Houston Habitat homes are not free homes. Part of partnering with Houston Habitat is ensuring that our families secure their own mortgage because homeownership helps families accumulate wealth over time as they build equity.

How can Houston Habitat help me secure a mortgage?

Houston Habitat works with a variety of lenders to secure an affordable mortgage for every family who qualifies for our program. Habitat is committed to ensuring mortgage payments consume no more than 30% of a homeowner’s income and meets this goal by offering financial packages composed of low- or zero-interest loans and forgivable loans. Typically, our families earn enough to pay back the mortgage for the home that they buy from Habitat, but not enough to qualify for a traditional home loan. Factors that contribute to securing a mortgage include annual income, credit score and debt to income ratio.

How important is my credit score?

Your credit score is important, but not the lone factor in securing an affordable mortgage. The better your credit score, the better interest rate you’ll qualify for and the more loan options that will be available. So the lower your credit score, the higher the interest rate. Typically a score of 620 will ensure a good interest rate. If your score is lower than this, don’t lose hope! Building strong credit takes time, but the steps aren’t complicated. While preparing to buy a home, make sure you make all payments on time (missed payments can sink your score pretty quickly), reduce your balances (the more available credit, the better), and avoid opening too many new accounts.

What should my annual income be to qualify for a mortgage?

Before qualifying for a mortgage, you need to apply to be part of our homeownership program.
Annual income requirements are based on the size of your family and your income. To partner with Houston Habitat, your annual income must be 50-80% of the annual mortgage income for Houston.

Want to see if you are eligible to be a Houston Habitat Homeowner? Take our Eligibility Quiz and begin your journey toward homeownership!