We’ve all heard of Habitat for Humanity, but what are the houses like? What do they cost? Am I eligible? Do I want to volunteer? And where’s their thrift shop?
Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discuss Habitat for Humanity on TV.
First of all, in keeping with the organization’s philosophy of building simple, low-cost dwellings, the Habitat for Humanity homes in Sarasota are wood frame with siding, and have from 2 to 4 bedrooms. They can be located in special Habitat communities (like Jordan’s Crossing just east of Tuttle Elementary) or as infill homes in established neighborhoods. There is also a group of new “green” houses on Central Avenue that are just being completed.
They range from $95,000 to around $120,000 but since they are financed in special ways, these figures don’t mean quite what they would in the regular housing market.
Who’s eligible? In Sarasota County you need a minimum household income of around $18,000 and a maximum of $41,000. Family size affects income restrictions, but these figures are a general guideline. The down payment is $1,650, plus 300 hours of “sweat equity”, meaning you have to help build the house. But lots of volunteers help, and that’s the fun part. (BTW, the mortgage is interest free.)
The program is especially good for low-income families who are currently living in substandard housing, or paying outrageous rents (believe me, one of the tragedies of American housing is the way low-income people are forced to pay high rents to live in dumps.) A stable household atmosphere is a plus. Habitat is looking for people who are in it for the long haul and want to raise their families as part of a community. They have special classes to help you over the hurdles of owning a home: how to budget, provide maintenance, pay taxes, etc.
For more info about Habitat call 941-365-0700.