Common Questions About Habitat

Your most commonly-asked questions about Habitat answered.

You’ve probably heard of Habitat for Humanity before, but how much do you actually know about us? Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions, answered, so we can shed some light on the work we do within our community.

1. Do we give away homes for free?

Nope

At Habitat we provide hand-ups, not hand-outs.

The path to becoming a Habitat homeowner can be an arduous one, requiring hard work, time and dedication. But by taking this path to reach their goal, it ensures the long-term success of families we partner with.

So how does it work?

The families we partner with are not required to make a down payment on their home. Instead, we ask them to continue the cycle of giving back.

Every family that receives a Habitat home will contribute at least 500 volunteer hours with our organization. This could mean helping to build their home, someone else’s home, or volunteering in different ways with our ReStores, ReVive Centre or office.

Homeowners pay an interest-free mortgage geared to their income. As they pay off their mortgage, the money is reinvested into Habitat HM’s build program.

A hand-up to a Habitat family generates more hand-ups we’re able to offer to hard-working families within our community.

After we hand over the keys, homeowners are responsible for maintaining their home. We provide home-repair and maintenance classes to allow them to develop their handyman skills.

Graphic describing the homeowner cycle.

2. How do you choose the family that gets the home?

As you can see, Habitat requires that the families we’re partnering with be active participants in building a better future for themselves and their families. There are three main criteria required for a family to qualify for a Habitat home.

Homeowner criteria

  1. In need of better housing

There are multiple reasons why a family might be in need of better housing.

Some common issues we see are: a poorly maintained or unhealthy house, overcrowded housing, unaffordable rent or inaccessible housing for people living with disabilities.

  1. Willing to partner with Habitat

Seeing everything that goes into becoming a Habitat homeowner, it’s a must that the family is on-board with all of our expectations from homeowners.

This includes volunteering at least 500 hours with our organization and taking classes in personal finances and home maintenance.

  1. Able to make affordable mortgage payments

Through our construction of housing, we’re offering families with an affordable homeownership opportunity. We require that the family is able to make consistent mortgage payments on their home, geared to their income. These payments help support our fund to build more housing within our community.

The family selection process

Up until recently, Habitat HM was responsible for selecting the families, which consisted of an in-depth application process and was highly draining on our resources.

Now, we’ve opted to outsource the selection of families to other not-for-profit organizations, like Halton Women’s Place, who work closely with families in need of a decent place to call home. This greatly helps streamline the process so we can put our resources to use in the most effective ways.

3. Are Habitat homeowners supported by welfare?

Not all families are supported by welfare

While some families we partner with are supported by welfare, most are hardworking families.

With the cost of living and of housing constantly on the rise, sometimes working hard just isn’t enough. We want to give families within our community a hand-up so they can build a better future for their family and invest in themselves (through education, skill-building courses, higher engagement in physical activity, etc.).

4. Was Habitat founded by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter?

No

While the Carters have been dedicated volunteers of Habitat for the past 35 years, they didn’t found the organization.

Who did?

Millard and Linda Fuller, co-founders of Habitat for Humanity.

Millard and Linda Fuller, co-founders of Habitat for Humanity.

The idea that became Habitat for Humanity started with Clarence Jordan, a farmer and biblical scholar from Georgia.

Jordan brought the idea to eventual founders Millard and Linda Fuller, where they developed the concept of “partnership housing.” It centred around those in need of adequate shelter working alongside volunteers to build decent, affordable houses.

In 1976, Habitat for Humanity was born, built on the initial ideology of Jordan and the Fullers.

5. How many homes are built each year? Where are they built?

From less than 1 home a year

With our first home built in 2001, Habitat HM continued for several years building about one home per year.

To more than 20

That all started to change in 2005, with our construction of 2 semi-detached homes.

Now, in 2019, we’re currently working on three build projects that will soon be home to 26 hardworking families.

Over the course of the next four years, we have plans to build 75 more homes in our community to meet the growing need for affordable housing.

We build homes right here within our community

Habitat HM keeps our construction nearby. We build homes within the Halton-Mississauga regions so our impact stays local. Help us build a better future for your neighbours.

Our current build sites are located at:

Check the progress of our build sites here.

6. Does Habitat only build houses?

No! We do so much more than that

ReStore

Habitat HM’s ReStores are among some of the most successful in all of Canada. We accept donations of furniture, appliances, household items, and many more. We sell these donations in our ReStores at a reduced price so shoppers within our community can get the best deals.

All revenue generated from our ReStores helps to cover necessary costs of administration. This allows us to direct all monetary donations and revenue from fundraising events into our build fund.

ReVive Centre

As the only Habitat affiliate featuring a ReVive Centre, we’re extremely excited about the work we do in ReVive. It’s a space centred around DIY with purpose.

We take donated products and materials that would otherwise end up in the trash, and we transform them into something unique and beautiful. These items are then sold in our ReStores to help cover operational expenses.

Handyman

Our Handyman program provides trusted contracting services at competitive prices. Initially created to help seniors with home maintenance and improvement, we’re now offering our services to anyone within our community who wants their contracting job done safely and correctly.

Handyman helps cover our administration costs, with net revenue supporting our build projects.

Free salvage and donation pickup

Habitat HM offers free kitchen removal, where we will remove everything in your kitchen and salvage what we can for resale in our ReStore. Our highly-skilled team will prep your kitchen for its renovations or remodelling for free.

Check out our kitchen salvage program here.

We also provide free donation pickup, whether the item’s by your curb, in your garage or inside your home.

Learn more about our donation pickup here.

7. Do you need prior skills or experience to volunteer?

Absolutely not

Most of our volunteers come to us with zero experience. Our highly-qualified team will walk you through the process and ensure you’re equipped with all knowledge needed to get the job done safely.

Whether you’re volunteering on a build site, in our ReStore, ReVive Centre or office, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to succeed in your volunteer position.

Walk away with a new set of skills, an amazing experience you can look back on and feel good knowing you’re making an impactful difference in your community. Sign up to volunteer in 30 minutes or less.

8. Can you support Habitat without volunteering?

Yes, please!

We highly value our amazing volunteers who make our work possible. But if volunteering isn’t for you, or your schedule is too hectic to donate your time, there are plenty of other ways you can support our mission.

Donate money

Habitat HM builds affordable housing, but construction is expensive. Your monetary donation helps ensure that we’re able to continue our work on these build sites. Every dollar donated to Habitat HM goes directly into our build fund so we can continue building houses that families within our community will one day call home.

Donate stuff

As we love to brag, we have some of the highest performing ReStores in Canada. That’s all thanks to donations from people like you, that help us remain so successful. We rely on your donations, so we want to help you out in any way we can. Like offering free donation pickup and a charitable tax receipt on donations of any value.

Check out what items you can donate here.

Shop at our ReStores and use our Handyman services

Our ReStores sell unique and quality items at a fraction of their retail value. A purchase through the ReStore means you’re supporting our mission of constructing affordable housing.

With over 15 years of home renovation experience, and as a licenced Red Seal carpenter, our handyman Jared and his team of highly-skilled volunteers will get the job done right at a competitive price. Why choose a more expensive, for-profit private contractor when you can use Habitat’s Handyman and make a difference.

Click here to learn more about our Handyman program.

9. Do Habitat homes reduce a neighbourhood’s property value?

No, it’s actually the opposite

Habitat homes have no adverse impact on a neighbourhood’s property value, and it’s actually been proven to increase property values. Property taxes generated from Habitat homes also mean more city services for our community to enjoy. 

By: Olivia Kabelin