If you’ve investigated some rent-to-own programs, you may have noticed most of them still require a down payment of at least $5,000 so you can go forward with the agreement. Sadly, for some, even half that amount would be out of the question and completely unaffordable. For situations where the direction of every dollar is closely considered, you may feel like there’s nowhere else to turn.

What if I told you with a little sweat equity and $1,000 down, you could become a homeowner: would you believe me?

Habitat for Humanity helps thousands of families every year all over the world live in a home of their own. Read on to discover if they could be your saving grace!

What Is Habitat for Humanity?

Habitat For Humanity is a global non-profit housing organization that has representation in all 50 US states, as well as over 70 other countries around the world. Their main mission is to create a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. They immerse the soon-to-be new homeowners into the homeownership process from day one. Alongside dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers, you quite literally help in the build or renovation of your new home.

How do I apply?

Each local Habitat organization has a family selection committee that selects homeowners based on only three criteria:

  • The applicant’s level of need
  • Their willingness to partner with Habitat
  • Their ability to repay a mortgage through an affordable payment plan

A nondiscriminatory policy is followed in the selection process, and all are free to apply. If it’s determined that it would be a worthwhile partnership, you have a very high chance of being accepted.

What happens once I’m accepted?

The first thing you must do is a little happy dance! On a serious note, however, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. While the application process is simple, the path to homeownership through Habitat is very in-depth and takes a lot of hard work and dedication on your part. The organization’s goal is to not only get you into a safe house, but to teach you everything you need to know about homeownership along the way.

Some of the things you need to be willing to do include:

  • Volunteer 150 hours at your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore
  • Put in at least 100 construction work hours
  • Take their mandatory classes covering the responsibilities of homeownership including personal finances, mortgages, maintenance etc. (all the things that would have been helpful to learn in high school, am I right?)

Do I have a say in how my new home looks?

Big questions many people have regarding their new house include where are all the materials coming from and who pays for them? These are great questions, with even greater answers! Being that Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization, they rely solely on donations from the community and partnerships with companies that are more than happy to donate materials and products to construct your home.

Even though everything is donated, you still get to pick the style elements you like, from fixtures and paint colors to flooring and modern conveniences within reason.

How long does the process take from start to finish?

From the time you’re accepted and initial paperwork is filed, they get to work finding you either a plot of land to build a brand-new house on or an existing property that needs renovation. When they find the perfect place, you give them $1,000 for a down payment, and they make the deal! The timeframe can range greatly depending on how extensive the project is going to be.

Your Habitat team wants to get you into your new home as fast as possible, but they want everything to be done correctly, and most importantly, they want you to love it.

So how does this end?

When it’s time to hand over they keys, they don’t do it quietly. An open house ceremony is held where you’re able to invite your closest friends and family to celebrate your new beginning. When all is said and done, they don’t leave you to the wolves. The people you’ve met and the relationships you’ve built throughout the process remain a valuable resource that you can call upon when ever you need support.


Rent-to-own may be the best solution for some, but with very little support, it’s not ideal for everyone. Habitat for Humanity is forging a path for people to break free from poverty and learn how to live a comfortable life in a permanent place they can call home.

Additional Resources

Habitat for Humanity Information