Habitat GO FAQ
Habitat GO is helping families in Greater Ottawa to build a better life through affordable homeownership.
Here you’ll find answers to the most common questions we get asked like “What is Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa?”, “How Does the program work?”, and “How is a partner family chosen?”.
- What is Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa?
- What is Habitat GO's mission?
- How does the Habitat program work?
- How large is the Habitat for Humanity organization?
- When did Habitat for Humanity come to the GO area?
- How many houses has Habitat built?
- What makes Habitat different from other not -for- profit builders?
- What's the most common myth about the affordable housing crisis?
- How is a partner family chosen?
- How are applications screened?
- How long does it take to apply for a Habitat home?
- Are there choices in house design?
- How many bedrooms are there?
- If a homeowner has special needs such as wheelchair access etc., will this be taken into consideration?
- Do houses have basements?
- Can an addition to the house be built?
- What are sweat equity/volunteer hours?
- What types of activities qualify for sweat equity?
- How much would a monthly mortgage payment be?
- Can I sell my home after having lived in it for a few years?
- Can the property be left in a will?
- Will bankruptcy affect an application?
- What if there is not a credit history?
- For purposes of obtaining a credit record, will the payment record be recorded with the Credit Bureau?
- Must total income be reported or just full-time income only?
- Is there an age limitation established for children when they are living at home?
Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa (Habitat GO) is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that brings communities together to help families build stability, strength and independence through affordable homeownership. Habitat GO’s homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. With our help, Habitat homeowners build a better life for themselves and their families.
To mobilize volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Through volunteer labour, efficient management and tax-deductible donations of money and materials, Habitat GO builds (and, in some cases, rehabilitates) simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner (or partner) families. Habitat GO houses are sold to partner families and are financed with affordable, no-interest mortgages.
Founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat International is headquartered in Americus, Georgia, U.S.A. Habitat for Humanity International (HfHI) works in 80 countries. Habitat for Humanity has been operating in Canada since 1985 and there are currently 56 affiliates in all 10 provinces and territories.
Habitat GO has been operating in the Greater Ottawa area since 1993 and is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Operations depend on a volunteer base of more than 1,000 people.
Habitat International has successfully built over 300,000 houses worldwide and housed more than one million family members. This success means that approximately every 15 minutes somewhere in the world, a family receives keys to their new Habitat home. Since 1993, Habitat GO is proud to have provided affordable and safe housing in the Greater Ottawa area by serving 72 families in need of affordable housing.
Almost everything we do!
- Habitat is a movement within a local community. Habitat continually strives to partner with the community in every aspect of its organization. Volunteers are key in our organization, serving on our Board of Directors, committees and helping build our houses.
- Habitat is a hand up, not a hand out. Habitat understands that low-income families do not need or want charity, but rather a helping hand out of the cycle of poverty.
- Habitat charges no interest on the mortgage extended to the family. Habitat requires that the family contribute 500 volunteers hours (350 for single-parent families) to the construction of their home.
Many people believe that there is nothing they can do to help solve the affordable housing crisis. Habitat works -- not because one particular organization is financially supporting it -- but rather because the general public is behind it. Everyone touched by Habitat has resources that can help further the work of Habitat. Everyone counts with Habitat!
Habitat families are families in need of affordable housing who want to help themselves and others to become homeowners. They must view our online Homeownership Information Session to fill out a Home Application Form. Click here for the video.
In the application form we ask about:
- The family
- Financial and employment situations
- Current housing conditions
- Willingness to partner with Habitat in future projects
Applications are screened for eligibility based on three basic criteria.
- Degree of a family’s need
- The ability to pay a 20-year interest-free mortgage
- A family’s willingness to contribute 500 volunteer hours to Habitat GO and to be a good will “ambassador” for us.
The application process is thorough and can take as long as four months. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Call 613-749-9950 ext. 225 for more information. The Family Selection Committee, composed of dedicated volunteers from the community, review all applications and then make a recommendation to the Board of Directors.
We have a basic house design that can be tailored according lot size and family size. We stick to a certain design to ensure that construction is “volunteer friendly”, cost effective, and keeping with Habitat’s guidelines of simple decent homes.
Habitat GO typically builds three-bedroom houses, but we sometimes tailor house plans to meet specific family situations.
Yes; we will take into consideration special needs and build to reflect those needs.
Yes; assuming the location, the type of home and building codes permit a basement.
Additions to the house can be built by the homeowner, but only with a building permit. Should an addition be built without a permit and if Habiat GO takes possession of the house for whatever reason, Habitat GO will charge the cost of removing the addition from the property and add this to the overall cost of the house.
Habitat GO requires each family to commit 500 hours of their time (350 for single-parent families) volunteering for the Habitat affiliate. There is no compensation for these volunteer hours. Examples of how to accumulate volunteer hours include: constructing one’s own home or the homes of others; participating in publicity and fundraising events; office work; and attending family orientation meetings. Family and/or friends can also contribute required hours.
- Habitat build site activities as assigned by the construction supervisor
- Habitat Home Education Courses (count as double hours)
- Pre-approved home improvement classes at Home Depot/Reno Depot or equivalent (count as double hours)
- With the approval of the Family Partner, a maximum of 50 hours of sweat equity requirements can be fulfilled through volunteerism with another community organization
- A maximum of 50 hours of sweat equity can be contributed through school credits from both adults and children
- Habitat Restore volunteer hours may be used
- Administrative work as needed at the Habitat GO office
- Speaking engagements and media interviews, including Groundbreaking and Dedication ceremonies
Habitat homes are sold to families based on the appraised value of the house. The long-term mortgage is repaid with monthly payments that are based upon the family’s income and will never exceed 25% of the total household income. Monthly mortgage payments include house payments, insurance and property taxes. Habitat GO reviews the monthly amount paid once each year.
Can I sell my home after having lived in it for a few years?
Habitat GO retains all rights on the house should the homeowner wish to sell via its “Buy Back Policy.” Habitat GO has first right of refusal on the home and will in turn sell that home to another deserving Habitat GO family.
Yes, when the mortgage has been paid in full. The home may be left in a will just like any other homeowner.
If a family’s financial position has improved that significantly to allow the purchase of another property, they would be deemed to be able to get conventional mortgage financing through a bank or another lender and be requested to pay off the mortgage to Habitat GO. This would then allow Habitat GO to use those funds to help another family get started in their life as a homeowner.
This depends on the timing of the bankruptcy and where the applicant is in the process when they apply to Habitat GO. One may be insolvent but the bankruptcy may not have been discharged or the bankruptcy may have been discharged and is now in the seven-year waiting period. Each condition will be assessed fairly however recent bankruptcy will require additional investigation.
Signed statements from a landlord, bank, hydro and other organizations that are dealt with on an ongoing basis can be good sources of credit history in the absence of a formal credit history.
To date, Habitat GO mortgages have not been reported to the Credit Bureau.
Habitat GO looks at total household income, including, but are not limited to child tax credits, support payments, disability pensions as examples. Homeowners must disclose all income of all family members.
Is there an age limitation established for children when they are living at home?
There are no age limitations. Habitat GO uses household income of all adults living in the home.