Habitat for Heroes Puts New Roofs Over Veterans’ Heads
Low-income veterans seeking affordable housing have a new place to turn: Habitat for Heroes, an offshoot of Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that works to build homes for people in need.
The military-specific program, which is cropping up in locations around the country, requires assistance in the form of sweat equity from a veteran and their family to help build the home. Once the house is complete, the family buys it for an agreed-upon price, which is determined by the home’s appraised value, and takes out an interest-free first mortgage.
The veteran then assumes an interest-free second mortgage to pay for the difference between the home’s appraised value and the amount represented by volunteer labor, donations of materials, and land. The family does not pay on the second mortgage, which becomes due only if the house is put up for sale before an agreed-upon time period. That stipulation stops a quick “house flip” and encourages stable home ownership, according to organizers.
One of the first recipients of a Habitat for Heroes house was Tom Gury, a former Marine and National Guardsman, whose family moved into a new home in Medford, Oregon in January. “It’s great to know there is an organization like Habitat for Humanity willing to help out veterans,” Gury told Stars and Stripes. “And it is great knowing there will also be other veterans whose families will be raised in a safe, clean, happy environment.”
Much of the volunteer work for Habitat for Heroes is performed by veterans, allowing them to give back to one of their own. Qualifications for the Habitat for Heroes program vary by location, but in general, a veteran and his or her family are eligible if they can prove:
- a need for adequate shelter
- demonstrate a stable income to pay for a Habitat home – with specific gross household yearly income requirements
- and have a satisfactory credit report, including credit cards and military loans that are in good standing.
Eligible veterans must also agree to commit to Habitat for Humanity’s sweat equity requirements, which vary, but usually include at least 250 hours of volunteer labor on the home. Veterans must also have lived in the Habitat service area for a specified length of time.
To find out if you live in an area served by Habitat for Humanity’s Habitat for Heroes program, contact your local Habitat chapter. More information is also available on the Habitat website, habitat.org.
Are you a recipient of a Habitat for Heroes home? Have you helped out with the organization? We’d love to hear you stories!