Leaving poverty housing is nearly impossible for many families in Bryan and College Station. Imagine planning for anything beyond survival if you don’t know how long you can stay in a home with a leaky roof and walls, temperamental stove and repairs that are never fixed and add to your monthly expenses. These families need a good, sturdy home they can afford. That’s what we do at Bryan/College Station Habitat for Humanity. Our community partnership and no-interest, affordable mortgages are the most well-known way we help low-income families create a brighter future with more possibilities. But that’s not all we do at Habitat – we’d like to share four more ways we help low-income homebuyers (Habitat families) plan a more prosperous future for themselves and our community.
BCS Habitat helps homebuyer applicants deal with debt.
For applicants who are denied due to poor credit or too much debt, we work with them to improve their credit. The goal of owning a home, which before seemed impossible, motivates people to face their debt and take control of it. We teach applicants how to understand their credit report and dispute errors they find on their credit report. One applicant found a charge for a theme park in Florida on her credit report, but she’d never even been to Florida! If she hadn’t applied to our program, she may have never known or dealt with this error.
We don’t give homeownership, we teach homeownership.
We require our homebuyers to take personal finance, budget and home maintenance classes before purchasing their home. These Habitat workshop classes help homebuyers to prioritize spending, manage their finances and reduce the cost of homeownership by doing simple home repairs themselves. Some of the simple maintenance we teach includes doing annual maintenance on water heaters, sealing windows during the winter months and even growing your own food through a backyard garden.
BCS Habitat doesn’t skimp on construction materials
We want these decent, affordable homes to last and truly be a blessing for many years to come. Our homes are energy efficient and well-constructed above and beyond industry norms – saving families money on their utility bills and maintenance costs. Many families in our community live in run-down trailers and they can end up spending ¼ of their income on utilities. As an example, one recent applicant family spends over $300/month trying to keep their trailer comfortable using a window unit. Their future Habitat home’s monthly utility bill could be under $100 and much more comfortable. That’s an extra $200/month to spend! (Read a recent Texas A&M University Bush School report on Habitat homeownership and quality of life.)
We help homeowners stay in their homes by monitoring property taxes.
Finally, we monitor the homeowners’ annual property tax bills and work to identify and deal with incorrect or inflated tax bills. Last year, staff found that a homeowner had been put into a different “basket” by the appraisal district, and their tax bill was hundreds of dollars higher than Habitat homeowners in the surrounding neighborhood. After talking with BrazosCAD, they found the designation error, fixed it, and now the homeowner has a much more affordable mortgage payment than before.
The Habitat for Humanity hand-up model of assistance helps families leave a housing situation that wasn’t benefitting them or our community. Through the concept of affordable, sustainable homeownership, these families create a more prosperous future. All our efforts at Habitat work together to create a situation where parents have more money to spend in our local economy and resources to invest in their family’s health, education or even starting their own business. Habitat for Humanity homeownership is hard work and requires dedication and perseverance, but the goal is achievable and transformational for the homeowners, their children and our community.
Partner with Habitat for Humanity to make an incredible impact for a low-income family’s future and benefit our entire community. Join our mission to create a Bryan-College Station where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.