Recently, Habitat hosted a zoom meeting with a panel of Habitat homeowners and families to talk about their experiences with Habitat and their homes. Participants Latoya, Jose, Darian, and Toni were all smiles as they shared their stories with the group.
What does your home mean to you?
For Habitat homeowners, a home means stability. If you’re someone that has always had a home and family, then you, like me, probably have never fully appreciated the importance of the stability that comes with living in your own home. Habitat helps its homeowners build stability for themselves and their families in many areas.
One important area is stability within the family. While speaking about their families, our panel participants emphasized that their homes were somewhere for their families to be to together. Latoya shared that her new Habitat home is like her “world away from the world” where she and her family can be themselves and be safe as we could hear her son happily hanging out in the background. Sisters Darian and Toni recalled graduation parties and family reunions that were made possible by their home.
Financial stability is another significant effect of homeownership. A requirement of owning a home with Habitat is taking homebuyer education classes that promote sustainable money management skills. Latoya shared about how helpful it was for her to learn about how to avoid debt, how to save, and how to manage special situations, like a car repair, without getting into a bind. Habitat also works hard to accommodate the families it works with by keeping mortgage payments at or below 30% of the family’s monthly gross income. In addition to that, Habitats energy efficient building strategies save families $300 – $1100 a year in energy costs.
Homeownership also leads to greater stability in education and health. Studies show that young children of homeowners see higher achievement in school, leading to a higher likelihood of teenage students staying in school and overall higher educational attainment. Homeownership leads to higher lifetime earnings. Homeowners also report greater life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and better physical health. With consistent, affordable mortgage payments and financial management skills, Habitat homeowners have the flexibility to make forward looking choices and are better able to eat healthy food, receive necessary healthcare, and participate in healthy activities.
All that being said, homeownership with Habitat is best summed up in the words of our homeowners:
“Habitat treats us like family” – Jose
“A home is a true foundation that everyone needs…Habitat makes it possible for us.” – Latoya