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What is the Habitat for Humanity Homeownership Program?

Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity offers a Homeownership Program to residents of Stearns, Sherburne, Benton, and Wright counties as a hand-up to low-income families that are unable to get a mortgage from the bank. We do not give houses away for free, but instead provide affordable mortgages to those that qualify. If you are selected for our Homeownership Program, Habitat for Humanity will build you an efficient, safe, and beautiful home with a monthly mortgage payment you can afford. In return, you will have to provide a minimum of 200 hours of labor, attend 15+ hours of homeowner education and financial wellness classes, and be willing to serve as an active ambassador and partner with Habitat.

Who Qualifies for the Homeownership Program?

There are initial qualifications for those who are interested in our homeownership program.

  1. You must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident and be able to provide documentation.

  2. You cannot currently own a home. (this requirement may be waived for Veterans Build applicants)

  3. You must have lived in Stearns, Sherburne, Benton, or Wright county for one year before applying. (this requirement may be waived for Veterans Build applicants)

  4. You cannot have had property foreclosed on for three years before applying.

  5. You cannot have had a bankruptcy for two years before applying.

  6. Your total household income must fall between 35% to 60% of area median income (see chart on application)

Total household income is more than just income from employment. In addition to employment income, it can include child support, alimony/spousal support, social security, SSI, SSI for a child under 18, and disability. Food stamps and rental assistance do NOT count towards your household income.

Your application is considered based on the following:

1. Need for Decent, Affordable Housing
Examples of need include (you need one or more of the following):


  • Spending too much of your income on housing (over 30% of household income)

  • Overcrowding

  • Living in temporary/unstable housing

  • Living in housing that is unsafe

  • Living in housing with poor living conditions such as bad heating, poor plumbing, pests, and structural problems

  • Special needs of family members is not being met by the current housing

2. Ability to Pay

The family must have the means to afford a mortgage with Habitat for Humanity. Proof of Ability to Pay includes:

  • Steady income. Remember that income is more than just employment income.

  • Your debt and credit history will be evaluated. Your debt to income must be under 43%. We also look for active judgments, liens and charge offs.

3. Willingness to Partner

The family must show a willingness to partner with Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity. A family demonstrates willingness to partner by doing the following:

  • Turn in all application materials and other requested documentation on time.

  • Complete all materials honestly.

  • Complete at least 200 hours of Sweat Equity per household. Read about sweat equity below. 

  • Attend homeowner education classes. These classes teach a variety of subjects including financial management, homeowner responsibilities, home maintenance, and mortgages. 

  • Will allow family story to be publicized. Exceptions are made as needed.

What is Sweat Equity?

An important part of the partner family phase is sweat equity. Sweat equity is the hours of service that each household must complete. Each household must complete at least 200 hours of sweat equity. Sweat equity is mostly completed with physical work on your house or other houses that are being built by Habitat, but there are also other opportunities available to complete sweat equity. Other opportunities include baking, office work, and help at major events put on by Habitat. Of the 200 hours required per household, 50 hours can be done by family and friends working alongside the family member.

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