Through volunteer labor from churches, businesses, civic groups, individuals and tax-deductible donations of money and material, Habitat for Humanity of Winchester-Frederick County builds homes with the help of the homeowners.
The homes then are sold with no-interest bearing mortgages to families whose income is 30-60% below the local median income and are currently living in substandard housing. Utilizing volunteer labor, the affiliate is able to keep the cost of construction to a low average of $80,000 (not including land acquisition and development costs) for a 980-1200 square foot house. When the house is sold to the partner family at no profit through a no-interest loan, Habitat holds a deed of trust for the difference of the sales price and appraised value. This mortgage is forgiven each year over a fifteen-year period. Habitat also holds a right of first refusal should the property be sold. The term of the mortgage is 20-30 years with an average mortgage principal payment of $350 per month. Amounts for homeowner's insurance and real estate taxes are put into an escrow account.
In addition to paying the mortgage, adult family members have to invest a minimum of 175 hours of sweat equity by working on their home or another Habitat house. Along with the personal investment of time and hard work, each new homeowner attends workshops related to homeownership, budgeting and credit counseling.
The objective for Habitat for Humanity is to give families who are currently living in substandard housing the opportunity to purchase a home of their own at an affordable price.