How To Qualify & FAQs
We’re here to help you find out if you qualify for a home through New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. On this page you will find out what we’re looking for to consider your application, our application process, and our homeownership FAQs.
Need for Housing
You will be considered for a Habitat home if your current housing is not adequate to your needs and if you cannot obtain adequate housing through other conventional means.
Lack of adequate housing may include problems with the present structure of your home (cracks in the foundation, leaking roof, vermin problems); problems with your water, electrical, or sewerage service systems; problems with your heating system; hazardous substances or failure to meet city property maintenance standards. You may also meet the need for housing qualifications if you live in an overcrowded or unaffordable situation.
You may qualify if you are living in transitional or subsidized housing, such as Section 8. Though your Section 8 voucher will not apply to your mortgage, we will ensure your payments do not exceed 30% of your income, similar to how Section 8 vouchers work.
You must have at least two years of stable income coming into your household. We can include non-work-related income such as food stamps, disability payments, Social Security, etc., as steady income if you can guarantee you will receive that income for the next two years. The minimum required income before taxes for a family between one and six people is $1,700 per month or $20,400 per year. For information on the maximum income per family size, please call our homeowner hotline at 504-609-3340.
Ability to Pay
As you will be buying your house from Habitat, you must show the ability to pay the monthly mortgage payment on your home. This monthly payment includes principal, real estate taxes, insurance, and a termite contract. We will help you to determine if this payment will make it harder to meet all your other family financial obligations and expenses.
AT present, partner families must save $278 a month in escrow during their partnership to cover their first year of payments on their new home. The total amount is due at closing.
All applicants will undergo a credit check. Because we are interested in your access to homeownership, we are not as strict in your credit review as a bank might be. If there has been a bankruptcy in your past, it needs to be discharged for at least two years, and you must demonstrate improved credit since then. If you have a court judgment resulting in a fine or settlement that is still unpaid, the judgment must be paid in full. You must have less than $2,000 in past due debt to move forward in the application process. We do not count medical debt that is 18 months or older.
Willingness to Participate as a Partner with Habitat
Once selected to begin the homeownership program, you become a “partner family.” This partnership is a unique characteristic of our program where you work volunteer hours known as “sweat equity.” This means that you and/or your family are responsible for completing 250 volunteer hours with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity in place of a down payment. Partner families work sweat equity at our ReStores, working on other Habitat homes, taking homeownership classes, and finally, working on their own home. You do not need construction skills–we will teach you as part of the process.
If you meet our criteria and would like more information:
Call to schedule an appointment! You can schedule an intake meeting with one of our Family Services Case Managers by calling the Homeowner Hotline at (504) 609-3340. If you filled out this homeowner application form with your contact information and sent it in, our Family Services representatives will contact you to schedule a meeting.
- Our Family Selection Committee will review your application and conduct a home visit. The committee will approve or disapprove the application or offer recommendations for improving your finances.
- Once approved, you will be asked to sign a Partnership Agreement.
- You then will start working sweat equity hours.
- Once your and/or your family complete 50 sweat equity hours, you will be eligible to see the list of lots available for construction and choose the one where we will build your home.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If accepted to the program, how long will it take to move into a house?
Habitat is a long-term housing solution. If selected for our homeownership program, it typically takes 18 months to 2 years before you would move into your new home. This is because you are completing requirements, then selecting a lot, then we are building a new house from scratch. Generally, the more quickly you complete your requirements and choose a lot, the faster you move through the program.
How much will I have to pay monthly?
Monthly payments never exceed 30% of an applicant’s monthly income. This payment includes the mortgage principal, property taxes, insurance, and an annual termite contract.
Where does Habitat currently build homes?
Habitat currently has plans to build newly constructed homes in Orleans Parish in the Upper and Lower Ninth Ward. Once you have completed 50 hours of sweat equity, you can choose from NOAHH’s current list of available lots.
What size are the homes?
New Orleans Habitat offers homes based on the size of the family and the land the home is built on. Most homes will be 3-bedroom with 1- or 2-bathrooms.
I have income such as food stamps, social security, or disability. Does habitat count that?
We accept a range of incomes into our program, starting as low as $1,700/month before taxes (or around $20,400 a year). However, we don’t only count your income from your job. Other sources of money can also be included, such as food stamps, Social Security, SSI, and more. Contact us for a complete list. Whether you are retired or not currently working, you must still meet our guidelines to qualify for a home.
What does Habitat look at on a credit report?
We look at your credit history and want to see that applicants have good or no credit and low monthly debts. We allow up to $2,000 in past due debt (including collections, profit and loss, judgments, and liens). These can be put into payment plans but must be resolved before closing on the purchase of a home. We do not count medical debt that is 18 months or older.
What if I have filed for bankruptcy before?
Our committee will consider applicants whose bankruptcies have been discharged from their credit report for at least three years.
If I am married, do I have to apply with my spouse?
You must apply with your spouse if you are legally married because Louisiana is a “community property” state. If you are separated, you must finalize a divorce before closing your loan.
What about having a co-signer?
We do not accept co-signers. We do accept co-applicants, but a co-applicant must go through all of the stages of the application process, must plan to reside in the Habitat home, and must also be an active part of the Partnership process (sweat equity, escrow, and homeowner education).
What if I am not a first-time home buyer?
You do not have to be a first-time home buyer. However, you cannot have owned a home for at least 3 years.
What if I am not a U.S. Citizen?
Effective January 1, 2012, all applicants must provide proof of legal residency or lawful status in the U.S. Please refer to our List of Acceptable Documentation.
What if I do not currently live in New Orleans?
You must live in our Greater New Orleans service area to be accepted as a Partner Family (our service area is Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, or St. Charles parishes); all requirements take place in the Greater New Orleans area, and you must be able to demonstrate that you have guaranteed income in the Greater New Orleans area.
What if I don’t want to apply with Habitat in the New Orleans area, but I do want to apply in another area of the U.S.?
We only take applications for the New Orleans area. There are Habitat affiliates all over the United States. You can contact Habitat for Humanity International (1-800-HABITAT) for the phone number of a local affiliate or go to www.habitat.org. On that page, scroll down to Find your local Habitat then enter your ZIP code.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation. We encourage and support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or sources of income.