Why Homeownership?

People with limited incomes partner with Habitat to build a decent, affordable place to call home. As a Habitat homeowner, you’ll not only buy a home, but you'll gain the stability and security that comes with it and a strong foundation for generations to come.

Habitat Homeowners
Low Income Families can achieve homeownership

Program Guidelines

We provide affordable homeownership opportunities to qualifying households, earning up to 80% of the Area Median Income, in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties. To qualify, you must show a need for housing, be willing to partner with Habitat by contributing sweat equity in the construction of your home, and demonstrate the ability to pay.

Click here to read our full Program Guidelines.


Ready to take the first step toward homeownership? Here are some tips for what to do next:

  1. See what developments we are taking applications for on our Homes for Sale page
  2. Review the program guidelines.
  3. Sign up to attend of our homeowner orientations.
  4. Complete a Pre-application
Apply for Homeownership

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a “family”?

Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley understands that there are many types of families, and all are welcome to apply to our program. You determine who your family is. Just a few examples of family are: an individual applying alone, a married couple with children, a single parent, a non-married couple, or a family that includes aunts, uncles, or parents. Unless there are circumstances outside of your control, you must have lived with all the household members shown on your pre-application and full application for at least 6 months.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen?

All applicant(s) whose name will be on the title must show proof of legal U.S. residency and at least one applicant must show proof of permanent legal U.S. residency.

Habitat will verify applicant(s) status of legal residency by obtaining a copy of one of the following:

  • U.S. Birth Certificate
  • U.S. Naturalization Certificate
  • U.S. Passport
  • Permanent U.S. Resident Card/Green Card
  • Legal Asylum (with application made for permanent legal residency)

Do I qualify?

First, if after reading the Program Guidelines you’re not sure whether you qualify, please apply! Our staff will review your information to help you figure out if you qualify.

We build houses along with partner households who meet Habitat’s homeownership program guidelines. Some of the basic guidelines are: You must be must be a first-time homebuyer. Your income must be 80 percent or below the median household income for the county in which the home is located. You must have a need for housing, you must show the ability to pay an affordable mortgage loan for 30 years, and you must demonstrate a willingness to partner with Habitat. Please refer to the Program Guidelines for more information on qualifications for the program, or attend one of our homeowner education/orientations sessions.

How much will my mortgage cost?

Your mortgage payment (including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) on your affordable first mortgage together with any Homeowner’s Association dues, a utility allowance, and a maintenance reserve will be no more than 35% of your gross monthly income. This helps to ensure that you are able to continue making payments on your home while having enough remaining income to provide a healthy, stable life for you and your family.

Can I rent my home to other people?

No, Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley homes must be owner-occupied and cannot be rented out..

Do I need to be employed?

No, but we do require proof of income. We will accept benefit statements and award letters for SSA and disability, as well as proof of payment for a pension plan. If you are employed through a company, we require at least 6 months of history with your current employer and 3 of your most recent paystubs. If you are self-employed, we require at least 3 years of tax returns (all pages) to verify your net profit.

Does Habitat for Humanity provide emergency housing assistance or rental assistance?

No, but we can refer you to other programs that may be able to assist you.

Why do you pull my credit?

We request a money order so we can pull a credit report for the applicant and co-applicant. Your credit report gives us a good indication of whether you have the ability to afford a mortgage payment on top of your existing financial responsibilities. We are looking for a history of consistent, on-time payments of your existing bills.  We are also looking to make sure there are no major issues, such as a history of late payments, open collections, or open bankruptcies.

When is the next homeowner education/orientation session?

You can register for one of our upcoming homeowner education/orientation sessions online. As we schedule orientations, we will update the website. You must attend a homeowner education/orientation session to qualify to purchase one of our homes.

How do I get a house?

Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley does not give away homes. We provide a hand up, not a handout. You will be purchasing your home, and we work with you to make sure you have an affordable housing cost after purchasing the home. Each applicant must agree to partner with us in the program, which includes providing all documentation needed as well as attending homebuyer education classes and completing sweat equity requirements.

More information can be found in our Program Guidelines or by attending one of our homeowner education/orientation sessions.

How long does the process take?

How long the process takes varies from applicant to applicant. Generally speaking, the process from submitting a pre-application to signing a participation agreement takes approximately 4-6 months. Completing your sweat equity can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months. It could take longer depending on Habitat’s volume of pre-applications and other factors, such as the completeness of the documentation you provide or if you need housing or credit counseling to move forward in the process, and the availability of a home that meets your needs. We will keep you informed of where you are in the process along the way.

Can I sell the house?

Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley sells homes to people who are looking for long-term ownership, but you may sell your home. Most of our partners continue to live in their homes for long periods of time. To help make sure that we are selling to households that need a home to live in and not investors, our partners sign long-term resale restriction agreements. Generally, during the term of the agreement, you can only sell the home if you first offer to sell the home to Habitat (and sometimes a city or county that provided funding to build your home) and you can only sell it at an amount so that it remains affordable to qualified buyers. Please call us for more details.

What are sweat equity hours, and how many do I have to work?

Sweat equity is the Habitat for Humanity term for partnering with us to help build your home and further Habitat’s mission. We require each Habitat partner household to complete 250 hours of sweat equity for a renovated home and 500 hours of sweat equity for a newly constructed home. Completion of sweat equity can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months.

Still have questions? Let us know!

Family-Beltran3-Lourdes Beltran.jpg
“We are really grateful that we have the ability to do this. If it wasn’t for the house through Habitat, I don’t think this would be possible. The money other people make goes all to rent. Luckily, we have the house, so we do have the ability to do all these things for our kids.”

Lourdes, Habitat Homeowner

Latest From The Blog

Steve Hays Rides Cycle of Hope

We often talk about Cycle of Hope as two journeys in a single ride. Our cyclists ride not just for the journey they’ll take, but also for the journey they chart for families here in the Bay Area. ...

Read more

Homeownership Impacts Education

The bell has rung, and school is officially back in session! We’re thrilled to see our community poised for academic success and taking on this school year with confidence. This year is going to be ...

Read more


Homeowner Orientation - December 4, 2019

December 4, 2019

Join us for a one-hour presentation on Wednesday, December 4th at 6:30 p.m. (check-in at 6:00 p.m.) to learn about current and future Habitat homeownership opportunities in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties.

  • Please ...
Read more