Grant helps Habitat build more homes

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By Sarah White, Community Outreach Officer, Habitat for Humanity Texas

As COVID-19 exacerbates the housing crisis in Texas, there is a need now more than ever for strengthened and coordinated efforts from nonprofits and the government to address the need for affordable housing.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the average hourly wage required to rent a modest, two-bedroom apartment in Texas is $20.90 an hour, a stark contrast from the state’s minimum hourly wage of $7.25. A single parent making minimum wage in Texas must work a staggering 115 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

This, layered with the COVID-19 pandemic, highlights the struggle of Texans across the state. However, for one new family in Denton County, the dream of building and owning their very own home just became a reality.

Habitat for Humanity of Denton County will receive Bootstrap funding for the first time in over 10 years with the assistance of Habitat for Humanity Texas. The Texas Bootstrap Loan Program, also referred to as the Owner-Builder Loan Program, is administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Department (TDHCA) and is designed as a self-help housing construction program. It provides an opportunity for low-income families to purchase or refinance property that will then be used to build or repair a home through “sweat equity.”

According to the TDHCA, as part of this program, 65% of the labor necessary for the home must be provided by the homeowner through working with a state-certified NOHP, Nonprofit Owner-Builder Housing Provider, such as Habitat for Humanity. Similarly, Habitat believes in a hand up, not a hand out allowing homeowners to build alongside Habitat volunteers.

“One of the most basic things to improve our communities, so basic that it’s often overlooked, is access to affordable and decent home ownership,” states Amy Ledbetter Parham, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Texas.

Through the combined efforts of Habitat for Humanity of Denton County’s Housing Ownership Program, Habitat for Humanity Texas’ HabTex Mortgage Services, and the Bootstrap Loan Program, another family can now be proud homeowners in Denton County.

Furthermore, the help from these programs translates into lower, attainable mortgage payments every month, allowing this family to make forward-thinking and financially flexible decisions, so they can provide for their children well into the future.

“The Texas Bootstrap Loan Program helps with this critical need of homeownership. On top of that, it’s a perfect program for the state government because it’s a loan that gets repaid to the state that allows them to build even more homes,” continues Parham.

Not only does the Bootstrap Loan Program help low income families and the state government, it also allows the local Habitat affiliate to build more homes and better serve the surrounding communities.

“For Denton County Habitat, we are a small affiliate, and we only build three homes a year. Therefore, the Bootstrap Loan allows us to help build a fourth home in our community. We are excited because we are going to be able to expand our capacity as an affiliate and continue to grow,” says Habitat for Humanity of Denton County’s Executive Director Lora Blakeslee Atkinson.

For an affiliate to purchase the property and all necessary materials to build a home, it typically costs around $125,000 in Denton County. This money must be raised through donations, ReStore revenue, and support, which is quite a challenge for three homes per year. Therefore, the Bootstrap Loan Program provides resources to the affiliate that can then be used to help more families.

For smaller affiliates, like Denton County, Habitat for Humanity Texas, the state-level organization, assists with the paperwork through originating the loan. This support comes as a much needed blessing to the local staff.

“Working with Habitat for Humanity Texas has helped us because we are a very small staff. Without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” continues Atkinson.

In Denton County and across the state, there are many hardworking, low-income families who unfortunately cannot obtain the dream of homeownership, especially amidst the current pandemic. However, thanks to organizations, like Habitat for Humanity and the Bootstrap Loan Program, families can finally obtain the dream of becoming a homeowner.

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