Open enrollment for Habitat Greensboro’s Homeownership program opened on Feb. 15. Applications are available online at habitatgreensboro.org or at the Gate City ReStore, with applications considered on a rolling basis.
This is not a giveaway. The Homeownership Program helps traditionally marginalized families buy affordable houses in the city. Applicants must meet minimum household income requirements — between $25-$35,000 a year, depending on size — and provide documents such as a current lease, Social Security cards for all household members and statements of income for all household members along with the application. Homes are custom built, one-story single-family homes and one and two-story townhomes with 2-5 bedrooms and 2-3 bathrooms.
Applicants are selected on three criteria: a need for adequate housing, a willingness to partner with Habitat Greensboro and the ability to pay an affordable mortgage. The program is open to all households who meet these guidelines — Habitat does not discriminate for any reasons related to race, sex, national origin, religion, familial status, handicap, or color.
“Last year, out of more than 400 applicants, only 10 people met the guidelines,” said Christine Byrd, Director of Development and Communications of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro. “Many applicants either didn’t answer all the questions in the application or include all the attachments.”
She said, “we want to walk alongside them on their journey.”
The process can be daunting — after being accepted, applicants must take required homeownership courses on budgeting and financial literacy, household maintenance and simple repairs. The families must also put in 250 hours of “sweat equity” that could include pitching in on the construction of the house or helping out with other Habitat Greensboro projects. All classes count towards the required 250 hours, and every adult in the household can contribute.
But in the end, they are able to purchase a new or refurbished home with a mortgage not to exceed 30 percent of household income.
It’s an important program, Byrd said, because “very few builders build starter homes anymore, and starter homes in Greensboro do not come at starter home prices; $200,000 is not a starter home.”
And she reminded that there has been historic discrimination in the real estate and finance industries against people of color, non-English speakers and other marginalized communities.
More details, instructions, FAQs and the application itself can be found at Habitat Greensboro’s website, habitatgreensboro.org.
“I know there are a lot of people in Greensboro who have interest in this, who probably don’t think they qualify,” Byrd said. “But chances are, we can help.”
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