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The American Dream: Preparing Low Income Families For The Joy—And Responsibilities—of Home Ownership

Updated on April 14, 2013

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Owning your own home has its perks. You get to change paint colors if you choose. It’s a secure place for your children. And you get to come home each day to your piece of the American Dream.

Home ownership also has its challenges. Yard upkeep, a cracked window, a leaky faucet, paper work, taxes and insurance…

Owning your own home can be a rewarding adventure. That is, if you’re well prepared.

Habitat For Humanity’s HomeWORKS Education has created a series of classes designed to help Habitat families prepare for the joys and responsibilities of home ownership. These classes and workshops, offered regularly and year round, support families in each stage of their ownership experience. They become informed, empowered, and better prepared to face all the new and wonderful challenges awaiting them as proud homeowners.

Most of the classes are mandatory for the selected families and include:

  • Financial Fitness. You’ll learn financial planning, money management, understanding credit and how to make it work for you.
  • Tax Education. Many people can miss the details when it comes to taxes. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief as you understand more about this complicated subject.
  • HomeBuying 101 and Mortgage Education. Like taxes, this subject can also be confusing. This class helps you understand the processes.
  • Home Maintenance. You’ll discover how to hire a contractor, do home repairs, understand energy efficiency techniques, and ways to conserve water.
  • Homeowner/Condo Association Basics. From fees to maintenance, you’ll learn the ins and outs of living in a close community.
  • Being a Good Neighbor. You want to be a good neighbor as well as have good neighbors. This class presents ways to interact with those living around you.

There are also optional classes, such as:

  • Predatory Lending
  • Fire Safety
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Gardening
  • Fix It Fair
  • Weatherization

Families attend classes at least once a month during their Habitat partnership. The Program Coordinator provides up to date information on dates, times, and locations and keeps everyone posted on any changes or cancelations.

Part of the family qualification process is the willingness of the selected family to provide ‘sweat equity,’ which is the volunteer time the participants invest in earning the right to purchase their homes and must complete 500 hours before the purchase is can be completed.

Ultimately, getting families into new and affordable homes helps not only the family itself, but the entire community. It extends the local tax base and provides stability for the children. People tend to move less. And when you move less, you develop a deeper sense of security, connection, and satisfaction.

(In keeping with full disclosure, even though I am not a marketer or fund raiser for Habitat For Humanity, I am a volunteer features writer for my local enterprise.)


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