Are you interested in purchasing a Habitat for Humanity home, but not sure if it’s right for you? You’re in the right place! Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley is committed to creating diverse, sustainable communities where more of our neighbors can afford to own a home and enjoy all the benefits that come with homeownership. The first step to applying for our Homeownership Program is to find out if you meet our eligibility requirements!
Keep reading to hear from our Client Services team, who have some answers to some commonly asked questions – and get on the path to changing your housing future.
Are there income requirements?
Yes. The specific household income amounts change every year, but generally, our Homeownership Program is open to households earning between 50% and 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI) as set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – and these vary between the East Bay and Silicon Valley. Keep in mind that specific homes in our program will have more narrow income guidelines within that range (for example, 65%-80% AMI or 100%-120% AMI).
Do I have to be employed?
Your household must meet our income requirements (see guidelines link), which means that your total household income must fall between 50% and 120% of the Area Median Income. This income can include sources such as pension plans, Social Security benefits, child support or alimony payments, unemployment benefits, or self-employment.
Are there any restrictions based on religious affiliation?
Not at all!
What’s the minimum age to apply? Is there a minimum household size?
Our program is open to all applicants 18 years of age and older who meets our program requirements. We receive applications from single individuals, multi-generational families, and many other types of households. Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley understands that “family” takes many forms, and you determine what constitutes your household. Generally, however, we do require that applicant households have resided together for at least six months prior to application (barring circumstances outside your control). As long as you meet our program’s general eligibility requirements, you are invited to apply.
Can I apply if I’ve owned a home in the past?
Generally, if you’ve owned a home within the last three years, you aren’t eligible for our Homeownership Program. However, there are a few exceptions, which you can find on our website.
Can I choose which home to apply for?
When you apply for our Homeownership Program, you indicate in which county you prefer to live (we serve Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties). We also determine by your household size and composition the number of bedrooms for which you are approved. We would not, for example, approve a single-person household for a three-bedroom home. When we have homes for sale in your preferred county and with the approved number of bedrooms for your household, you will be welcome to participate in selection for those homes.
What’s the best way to prepare for application to the Homeownership Program?
The first step is to thoroughly read the program guidelines. This is where you’ll learn important information about how we determine eligibility for our program. Here, you can read about how things like late payment history, outstanding collections, and income might impact your application. Most of the time we deny an application, it is due to income and credit. By getting fully acquainted with our guidelines, you can know where you stand and be better prepared to make an application decision.
I’ve decided to apply for the Homeownership Program! What can I expect in terms of next steps and timing?
You’ll be applying for the Homeownership Program – not for a specific home (yet). Once you complete your pre-application and full application, you’ll hear within 30 days about your status. If your application is successful, welcome to our Buyer-Ready Group! This means that you (and other eligible households on the list) will be notified when Habitat has an available home that fits your approved number of bedrooms and preferred county of residence. Habitat sets the sales price and payment amount when the home becomes available, so we’ll request any necessary document updates from you in order to ensure you qualify for the mortgage and other requirements. If you do qualify, we’ll invite you to an interview with our selection committee. After that, the committee will make a selection decision. If you are not selected, you’ll rejoin the Buyer-Ready Group and be considered for future homes. See below for a snapshot of what to expect if you are selected!
Please understand that we cannot offer a timeline for when homes will become available. Some applicants can spend years on our Buyer-Ready Group, awaiting a home that fits their preferences and for which they are eligible. If you have short-term housing needs, we invite you to also check out our Resources page in the meantime.
If I’m selected to purchase a Habitat home, what’s next?
If you’re selected, you’ll be required to submit some additional documentation in order to secure approval by our funding partners and financial classes. After approval by funding partners, you will sign a participation agreement. You’ll also be required to contribute between 250-500 volunteer hours with Habitat, contributing to efforts like the building of your future home! You’ll also be required to adhere to a savings plan. We want to be sure you’re well-prepared for your closing and for the ongoing responsibility of homeownership. You’ll sign a purchase contract after completion of sweat equity and savings plan. Once the home is complete, it is time to submit for financing, sign your closing documents, transfer ownership, and officially welcome you home!
Ready to apply?
Interested applicants can follow the steps below and access the pre-application.
1. Read Program Guidelines
These guidelines outline the basic criteria needed to qualify for our program.
2. Attend an Orientation
Orientations are free, hour-long classes that cover everything you need to know about becoming a homeowner with Habitat.
3. Complete the Pre-Application
Interested applicants can either submit a pre-application online or by downloading a pdf version to print and submit by mail at:
Habitat for Humanity, East Bay/Silicon Valley, Inc.
Attn: Intake Specialist
2619 Broadway, Oakland 94612