Habitat accepting applications for homes
When a new home's being sold at zero profit with only a 1-percent down payment, it must be Habitat for Humanity behind that hammer.
Local Habitat volunteers have built half a dozen homes so far and now they're looking for homeowner No. 7.
Applications will be accepted for the next several weeks. All documents must be postmarked by Tax Day - April 15.
"It makes an easy day for most folks to remember," said Fred Brown, publicity chairman for Habitat for Humanity of Yuma.
Brown said the group plans to have the new homeowner chosen within the next three months, with the building process starting about three months after that.
"It then takes us less than six months to build a house," he said proudly.
Habitat began taking applications March 1. To request an application, call 783-3993 or send the name, address and phone number to Habitat for Humanity of Yuma, P.O. Box 4089, Yuma, AZ, 85366.
Brown stressed that too many people have the misconception that Habitat for Humanity gives away its houses.
"That's not true," he said. "We sell these houses."
Brown called the application "an involved process," explaining that applicants must provide extensive proof of eligibility and need. There are five major criteria.
"First, there must be a need, something that causes the present housing situation to be not adequate," Brown said. "However, just because you want a house doesn't mean you need a house."
He explained that good reasons could include inadequate space in the present dwelling or lack of an important utility, such as electricity or water.
The second major requirement is based upon income, although there are no set limits because everything is based on family size. Basically, though, the person's income must be 80 percent or less than the median income for Yuma.
New homeowners must also commit themselves to becoming "willing partners" with Habitat. That means that they must put at least 500 hours of sweat equity - help or labor - into their own future home, as well as Habitat homes to come.
"This is a Christian organization with the intent of completely eliminating poverty housing in the world. We're not going to do that by only getting people to build their own houses," Brown said. "We need to be a community, a neighborhood."
Fourth, applicants must prove their ability to pay for the house. The down payment that must be made is 1 percent, which typically averages between $500 and $700.
Lastly, monthly mortgages that boast 0-percent interest must be paid. Brown said monthly payments usually run around $400 or $500 a month.
In terms of eligibility, there are no limits set for gender, race, age, marital status or parental status. Applicants, Brown said, could range from a small family with children to an older couple who's retired.
Habitat usually requests applications two to three times a year.
"We always select the family before we plan and build their house," Brown said. "Our waiting list is nine months to a year and we don't want people waiting for longer than that."
Each home is also designed to meet each owner's particular needs.