Habitat for Humanity FAQ
Who are we and what do we do?
Habitat NYC is a faith-based not for profit organization that transforms lives and neighborhoods as we build affordable homes for ownership and advocate for affordable housing in New York City.
What is your connection to Habitat for Humanity International?
We are an independently funded affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. Donations to Habitat International fund housing programs overseas and donations to Habitat NYC fund housing programs in the boroughs of New York City.
Who is Jimmy Carter?
Our most famous volunteer! Habitat NYC started building in 1984, when Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter came to build affordable housing on Manhattan’s Lower East Side during Habitat International’s first annual Jimmy Carter Work Project.
Who can volunteer for Habitat NYC?
We unite people across all races, nationalities, ethnic and religious backgrounds around the cause of decent, affordable housing for everyone.
What kind of homes do we build?
Habitat NYC builds or renovates single-family homes as well as multiple-family condominium and cooperative apartments.
How can I volunteer?
Individuals, skilled workers in the building trades, groups from companies, congregations, local organizations, and national service volunteers and interns can all lend a hand. Learn more on our Volunteer page.
How can I donate?
Individuals can send donations, including matching gifts, celebration gifts, monthly pledges in our Sustainer Program and planned giving. Corporations, faith groups and local organizations can sponsor homes or send groups for team building. The building trades can arrange in-kind sponsorships of new materials needed in construction. You can also make your tax-deductible donation using our secure online donation form. Click here to Donate Funds and Materials information
What makes Habitat NYC homes affordable for low-income families?
› Community, faith, and corporate sponsorships
› Individual donations
› Volunteer labor
› Government funding of infrastructure
› “Sweat equity” hours in place of a monetary down payment
› An affordable mortgage
How can I obtain a homeownership application?
Anyone interested in applying for a home must first attend an Information Session. Contact information and housing preferences will be collected at these sessions to provide applications for specific projects. Email us to RSVP to attend an information session.
What is a “Family Partner”?
Partnership is a key component of the Habitat for Humanity model. Habitat provides a hand up, not a handout, meaning that we are in active partnership with our Habitat homeowners. We affectionately apply the term “Family Partner” to applicants that have met all prerequisites required to be considered for Habitat NYC homeownership.
What is the process for becoming a Habitat NYC homeowner?
Applicants must complete the following to become a Habitat NYC Family Partner:
- Complete a Homeownership Application
- Provide all required documentation and attachments
- Meet income and credit guidelines
- Be a first time Homebuyer
- Attend Panel Interview (all members of the applicants household)
- Attend Family Partner Orientation
- Attend a 1-on-1 meeting
- Provide $2,500 down payment and begin monthly savings program (minimum $200/month requirement)
- Complete 200 hours of sweat equity per adult (up to 400 hours total)
How long is the process?
The process, from start (application) to finish (keys to your new home), may take up to 18 months.
How are Family Partners selected?
Family Partners are selected based on income, credit, need and willingness to partner (i.e. sweat equity).
How much does a Habitat NYC home cost?
The cost of a Habitat NYC home is tied to a family's income. Habitat NYC families will pay no more than 33% of their total income in monthly housing costs.
Are there income requirements?
Applicants must earn between 50-80% of the Area Median Income.
Does my credit have to be perfect?
No; however, applicants must have a credit score of at least 620.
What is “Sweat Equity”?
“Sweat equity” is Habitat’s name for the labor that Habitat homeowners contribute to building their houses and the houses of their neighbors, as well as the time they spend in financial and home management courses. Homeowners do sweat equity after they are selected to be Habitat partners, but before they complete and move into their new houses. Sweat equity is a keystone of the Habitat program: important to partner families, attractive to donors, adopted by many other housing organizations it goes to the heart of our partnership approach.
Who is considered a “First Time Homebuyer”?
Habitat NYC uses the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) definition of First Time Homebuyer, which is an individual who has had no ownership in a principal residence during the last 3 years.
Where are Habitat NYC homes?
Habitat NYC builds throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City.
What types of home does Habitat NYC develop?
Habitat NYC currently builds primarily 2-3 bedroom co-ops and condominiums.
What is SONYMA?
State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) is a state agency that provides low-interest mortgages to low- and moderate-income homebuyers.
Does Habitat NYC conduct criminal and/or sex offender checks?
Habitat NYC complies with all federal state and local Fair Housing Laws. All adult residents of applicant households (age 18 and above) are checked against the National Sex Offender Public website.
What if I want to move to a different Habitat home?
You are buying a home. We do not transfer owners between development projects. If you do decide to move, you can sell your home based on the requirements set forth in your offering plan and/or purchase agreement.
Is there a maintenance fee?
If you are buying a condominium or cooperative, you will be required to pay monthly maintenance fees.
What will I pay for my mortgage?
The term of your mortgage will be 30 years, with a 2% fixed interest rate. Your total monthly mortgage payment and maintenance charges will not exceed 33% of your household’s month gross income.
What is a panel interview?
All applicants (including all members of the household) approved upon application review are required to attend a panel interview. Members of the Habitat NYC staff and board conduct these Interviews. The 30-minute session provides an opportunity for an applicant and his/her family to articulate their interest in Habitat NYC, their need for affordable housing and why they believe they should be selected as a Family Partner. It also provides an opportunity for applicants to ask questions of Habitat NYC staff concerning the program, the process, etc.
What is 1-on-1?
Following the mandated panel interview, newly selected family partners will meet individually with a Habitat staff member to discuss their individualized savings plan, provide their down payment and initiate their sweat equity plans.
Habitat for Humanity New York City transforms lives by building quality homes with families in need and by uniting all New Yorkers around the cause of affordable housing.