Owning a Home

Is homeownership through Habitat for me?


Do you:

·        Enjoy working with new people—volunteers, staff, other homeowners?

·        Have interest in forming a community with your new neighbors?

·        Have the time and energy to complete 250-500 hours of sweat equity work?

·        Have the commitment to be a successful homeowner by attending homeowner education workshops, leadership trainings, making timely mortgage payments, and maintaining upkeep of your home after moving in?


Habitat partner families are carefully selected to ensure that they are well-prepared and qualified for homeownership. Between the selection process and the sweat equity period, it could take 12-18 months to move into a new Habitat home and 6-12 months for a renovated property.

Selection Requirements

Applicants complete an extensive selection process, including an in-depth financial review, underwriting analysis and at-home visits. Applicants must meet the income guidelines for their household size as dictated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, show a history of responsible credit, have monthly debt that does not exceed 15% of their gross wages, and be willing and able to perform 250-500 hours of "sweat equity" to build their own home.

Applicant(s) must be legal US residents and at least one must be a permanent legal US resident to qualify.

The Family Selection Committee, a group of dedicated Habitat staff and volunteers, selects qualified families on an impartial and non-discriminatory basis. Race, color, gender, national origin, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, age, religion, and disability are not part of the decision-making process. Applicants are evaluated based on three main areas:

·        An ability to pay for the home

·        Need for housing

·        Willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island – Greater Providence, Inc.


Ability to Pay

Homeownership is a long-term commitment, so we partner with families who have sufficient annual income to meet the expenses of this investment (house payment, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance). Applicants must demonstrate a history of regular income and must have consistent on-time credit payments with no more than 15% of their gross monthly income going towards debt.

Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island - Greater Providence, Inc. is a publicly funded non-profit organization. It is not a government agency; therefore submitting an application does not guarantee housing. Potential partner families must qualify according to the stated criteria.

Generally speaking, Habitat partner families fall into the following income ranges based on the number of persons living in the home. Income levels represent 30-60% of the average median income of the Providence area (AMI).

1 person— $15,100-$30,240

2 persons—$17,250-$34,560

3 persons—$19,400-$38,880

4 persons—$21,550-$43,140

5 persons—$23,300-$46,620

6 persons—$25,000-$50,100

7 persons—$26,750-$53,520

8 persons—$53,520-$57,000

These guidelines are based on family size and are set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.?Please note that these income guidelines are to give you the minimum and maximum gross/monthly income applicants can make to qualify for our program. Applicants must still be able to afford the homes which vary by unit.

To calculate income, we consider all earnings (wages, seasonal work, social security, child support, etc.) for every adult member (18-years-old or older) in the household. To learn more about our ability to pay criteria, please attend a Family Selection Briefing.


Need for Housing

Selected families must demonstrate a need for adequate shelter. Some examples of this are overcrowded housing; dilapidated, unstable or unsafe housing; or rental payments exceeding 30% of the household income.

Willingness to Partner

Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island - Greater Providence, Inc. homeowners are partners throughout the selection and building processes. As such, each family is evaluated on their willingness to cooperate with staff and committee members during the approval phase and their commitment to do 250-500 hours of "sweat equity" after they are fully approved. Sweat Equity is primarily done by working on the construction of their or their neighbor’s home and is at the heart of the Habitat homeownership program. The work varies and construction experience is not necessary.

250-500 hours of sweat equity means working about 40 hours per month for six months to one year. It will take dedication, and sometimes sacrifice, in order to reach this goal, but the experience is a rewarding one. It is an opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people as you help build your home and the homes of your future neighbors!

Partnership with Habitat extends beyond building homes. Part of the sweat equity commitment involves attending homeowner education workshops so that partner families have the skills to be successful homeowners, neighbors, and community leaders. After moving in, partner families are expected to remain active and engaged with Habitat’s mission by staying in good communication with Habitat and, of course, by making timely mortgage payments so Habitat can build more houses! It is expected that homeowners work with their neighbors to support healthy, safe and inspiring neighborhoods where partner families learn, grow and thrive together.

The Process

Family Selection Briefing (held 1-2 times per year) Potential applicants are invited to come to an orientation, called a Family Selection Briefing, in order to learn more about Habitat’s homeownership program. At the end of the orientation they are given a pre-application form to fill out and return to our office. Orientations will be posted on our website at www.habitatprov.org


Pre-application Turn-in (2 weeks)

Credit and Income Review (approx. 2-3 days) When the Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island – Greater Providence, Inc. receives pre-applications we use the family’s most recent financial information to determine income eligibility and pull a credit report for the applicant and co?applicant to determine credit readiness.

Full Application, Ability to Pay Review, and Neighborhood Visit Form (approx. 2-3 weeks) If the applicant meets our income and credit qualifications, they are given a full application to fill out and a full ability to pay review is completed at this time. The full application requests additional information that will be required to proceed in our program (bank statements, taxes, W-2s, questions concerning the family, etc.). If applicants do not meet credit qualifications they will be referred to a credit counseling service.

Application Review (approx. 2-3 days) Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island – Greater Providence, Inc. staff and Family Selection Committee members reviews each full application for thoroughness and completion. If there are issues regarding the additional documents, they are addressed at this point.

Home Interview (approx. 2 weeks) If the application is complete and the family fits Habitat’s homeowner criteria, a home interview is scheduled. Members of the Family Selection Committee (FSC) visit the family in their home to assess their current living situation. The FSC members also take this time to inquire further about the family’s willingness to partner and financial situation.

FSC Meeting (held once per month) The Family Selection Committee meets to determine if families meet Habitat criteria.

Board Approval (held once per month) If the family is approved by the Family Selection Committee they are then submitted to Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island - Greater Providence, Inc. Board of Directors for final approval.

Partnership Agreement (1 day) When a family has received final approval from the Board of Directors, they are invited to sign a Partnership Agreement and begin their sweat equity work.

Sweat Equity Process Begins (10 - 12 months)

For more information about the homeowner application process, call us at:

401-831-5424 or e-mail us at:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it