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FAQ

Here you’ll find answers to the most common Habitat homeowner questions. If you have a question that is not answered here, please email familyservices@habitatgo.com for more information. 

Local Ottawa families in need of affordable housing who meet Habitat Greater Ottawa’s eligibility criteria may apply online by submitting a complete Home Application Form. The application asks for information on the family, current housing conditions, financial and employment history and willingness to partner with Habitat.

Applications are screened for eligibility based on three basic criteria:

  1. The ability to make affordable monthly payments towards the equity of the home;
  2. A family’s willingness to contribute volunteer hours and partner with Habitat Greater Ottawa;
  3. Degree of a family’s housing need.

Full eligibility criteria includes:

  1. Have a total family income (before taxes) between $47,871 and $75,130;
  2. Have children under the age of 18 – please see *Exemption information below;
  3. Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident;
  4. Be living in housing that does not meet your family’s needs;
  5. Be steadily employed, but unable to obtain a conventional mortgage;
  6. Be a first-time homeowner;
  7. Be able to contribute 500 volunteer hours (350 for single-parent families) to help build your own home and participate in other Habitat projects and community activities.

*EXEMPTION: When assessing applications for the accessible units under the Eligibility Criteria, child[ren] 18 years of age or older may be considered if they are a “dependent” and a “person[s] with disabilities”. 

“DEPENDENT” is considered to be a child, spouse, parent, or other relative to whom one contributes all or a major amount of necessary physical and/or financial support.   

“PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES” include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. 

The application process is thorough, and screening can take between three to six months. Applications are accepted year-round online. The Family Selection Committee, composed of community volunteers, review all applications and then make a recommendation to the Board of Directors.

Habitat Greater Ottawa requires each two-parent family to commit 500 volunteer hours. Single-parent families need to complete 350 hours. There is no financial compensation for these volunteer hours. Volunteer hours accumulate once the family has officially been selected to join the Habitat Affordable Homeownership Program.

Examples of how to accumulate volunteer hours include: working on the Habitat build site to construct one’s own home or the homes of others; participating in Habitat media campaign and fundraising events; office work; volunteering in our ReStores; attending homeowner training workshops as well as local community volunteerism. Children can contribute to volunteer hours such as through school grades and activities. There are limits set on the number of hours family members can volunteer on any one activity so that volunteer hours are spread across various activities.

Up to five additional family members other than those who will be residing in the home and/or friends can also contribute to the required hours. Selected families are matched with community volunteers from the Family Partnership Committee who support families to complete the volunteer hours and homeownership training.

*Please note volunteer hours and activities are currently being adapted according to provincial and municipal health and safety regulations due to COVID-19. 

Habitat Greater Ottawa does not give away free homes. Our traditional Affordable Homeownership Program allows families to purchase their home at fair market value with no down payment and pay an interest free mortgage geared to no more than 30% of household income. Habitat Greater Ottawa reviews household income annually and will adjust payments accordingly. Once families receive title to the home they are responsible for the ongoing maintenance, insurance and payment of utilities for the home as well as related condo fees if applicable.

We are currently completing a 16 townhome development at Leacross Landing in Orleans. All units for that project will be occupied as of winter 2021.

Our upcoming build is Wateridge Village located on the former Rockliff Airbase, and will contain 8 stacked townhomes.

Wateridge Village Project Profile:

  • Located at 455 Wanaki Road
  • New development centrally located near transit, amenities and waterfront
  • Construction slated for spring 2020; move-in spring 2021
  • 8 stacked townhomes in two adjacent buildings
  • Two accessible barrier-free 3-bedroom units on ground floor
  • 4-bedroom units are split level two-story
  • Stacked townhomes do not include basements or yards
  • Shared outdoor space and outdoor parking provided

Wateridge Village will follow our Pathways to Homeownership Program. It is a ‘rent-to-own’ model that will convert to homeownership after twenty-years. The purchase price of the home will reflect the fair market value at the time of move-in, and the development will convert to a condo at the end of the twenty-year term. If the family has remained in the home for twenty-years they will receive title to their home and the equity portion of their monthly payments will be applied to the purchase price of the home.

Wateridge Village Financial Model:

  • Affordable monthly payments will be made as a fixed ‘rent’ set at no more than 80 percent of Average Market Rent and will be adjusted annually with inflation.
  • A portion of the monthly payment will go toward maintenance fee (reserve fund), property taxes and insurance.
  • The balance of monthly payments are put toward the principal owing on the home;
  • Expenses such as utilities, tenant insurance and other household needs are the responsibility of the family

Habitat Greater Ottawa looks at total household income. Discretionary consideration may be given for non-taxable income such as child tax benefits, support payments and disability pensions as examples, though on a discretionary basis. Homeowners must disclose all income of all family members.

Habitat’s mandate is to help families, and at least one child must be 18 years of age or under at the time of move in. Habitat Greater Ottawa believes that every child deserves a stable start in a safe and secure home.

When assessing applications for the accessible units under the Eligibility Criteria, child[ren] 18 years of age or older may be considered if they are a “dependent” and a “person[s] with disabilities”. 

“DEPENDENT” is considered to be a child, spouse, parent, or other relative to whom one contributes all or a major amount of necessary physical and/or financial support.   

“PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES” include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. 

We have a basic house design that can be tailored according to lot size and family size. We adhere to a specific design to ensure that construction is ‘volunteer friendly’, cost effective, and keeping within Habitat’s guidelines.

Habitat Greater Ottawa typically builds three and fourbedroom homes. We may tailor house plans to meet specific family situations, for example to meet a family’s accessibility needs.

Yes, we will take into consideration special needs and build to reflect those needs. Accessible housing can work for everyone, including those with physical disabilities. It also allows people to stay in their homes as their circumstances change, without expensive renovations. Habitat Greater Ottawa’s accessible units feature wider door frames, open turning spaces within rooms, easy-to grab handle levers and light switches, a wheel-in shower stall and kitchen work surfaces with knee space below and adjustable storage spaces above. 

Our townhomes do include a basement, assuming the location, the type of home and if building codes permit a basement. Habitat’s stacked townhomes do not include a basement.  

Additions to the house can be built by the homeowner, but only with the permission of Habitat Greater Ottawa and with the necessary approvals and City of Ottawa building permits, and only once title has been transferred to the homeowner. Construction must be completed by a qualified contractor

Habitat Greater Ottawa retains all rights on the house should the homeowner wish to sell via its ‘Buy Back Policy’. Habitat Greater Ottawa has first right of refusal on the home and will in turn sell that home to another family in need of affordable housing.

Yes, when the mortgage has been paid in full. The home may be left in a will just like any other home.

This depends on the timing of the bankruptcy and when the applicant submitted their application with Habitat Greater Ottawa. Each condition will be assessed fairly and the circumstance for bankruptcy will be reviewed, however more 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 Greater Ottawa mortgages have not been reported to the Credit Bureau.