Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston partners with hardworking families in our community to make affordable homeownership a reality.
With home prices and rents soaring, we provide opportunities for eligible families to help build a home of their own, with an affordable mortgage and plenty of support along the way.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston’s homeownership program provides homeownership opportunities to families without the financial means to purchase a home through traditional methods. By utilizing volunteer labor, sweat equity, and donated supplies and funds, Habitat Greater Boston can build and sell homes at an affordable price to first-time homebuyers. Since we are constructing new homes or renovating existing structures, our homeownership program is a long-term commitment and collaboration.
Through helping low- to moderate-income earners purchase their first homes, Habitat Greater Boston enables wealth generation among families which otherwise might not have access to this transformational asset. Additionally, without worrying about increasing rent or substandard conditions, families who own their homes can spend more time together and have extra funds for enriching experiences. We are proud to administer a program that supports economic mobility.
At Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston, we provide families with a hand-up, not a hand-out. We offer selected households an affordable zero-interest mortgage with no required down payment. Our policy is that no homeowner will spend more than 30% of their gross monthly income on housing costs, including monthly mortgage payments, real estate tax escrow and condo association fee (if applicable). To participate in our homeownership program, you must have a demonstrated need, the ability to pay, and a willingness to partner with Habitat Greater Boston.
Demonstrated need refers to the reasons that bring individuals and families to Habitat in the first place. It could be that current housing is substandard or inadequate (overcrowded, too expensive or unsafe) or family income is insufficient to afford a conventional mortgage. Habitat Greater Boston considers homes to be overcrowded if children of different genders must share a room due to lack of space, if over two children of the same gender have to share a room, and/or children share a room with adults. Housing is considered too expensive if families pay over 30% of their gross monthly income towards rent.
Ability to Pay
Since Habitat homeowners make monthly affordable mortgage payments, they must have secure employment, good credit, and legal residency. There is no minimum credit score required for program eligibility; however, your monthly Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio must not exceed 43%. Homeowners are also responsible for paying the closing costs associated with the home purchase. Additionally, most homeowners become members of condo associations, which means they must pay a monthly condo fee. This fee is included as a housing cost when calculating affordable mortgages.
Income Requirements: Participants in our homeownership program must earn between 40%-80% of the area median income.
The income guidelines below are effective as of May 15, 2023:
|Family Size||Minimum Income||Maximum Income|
|40% Area Median Income||80% Area Median Income|
Published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on May 15, 2023
Willingness to Partner
As part of our homeownership program, individuals and families agree to complete sweat equity. To do this, they work with Habitat and our volunteers for at least 300 hours (two-parent household) or 250 hours (single-parent household) building Habitat homes, or working in our ReStore. These hours take the place of a down payment on the homes. Families are also required to complete 12 first-time homeowner education classes.
Other Eligibility Requirements
- First-time homebuyer: Only first-time homebuyers are eligible for this program.
- Asset limit: Eligible applicants may not have more than $75,000 in financial assets.
- Ability to pass a criminal background and Sex Offender Registry check: While having a criminal record does not exclude you from program participation, Habitat Greater Boston reserves the right to deny applicants who have been convicted of certain offenses. We assess criminal backgrounds and Sex Offender Registry status on an individualized basis.
- Live or work in service area: Eligible applicants must have been living or working in our service area for at least one year. The following cities and towns are included in our service area: Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Dedham, Dover, Everett, Lexington, Lincoln, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Needham, Newton, Revere, Somerville, Stoneham, Waltham, Watertown, Wellesley, Weston, Winchester, Winthrop, and Woburn.
The application process can last between four to eight months, and it can take anywhere from 18-24 months after that to finish constructing the home. It is important to note that our program does not provide immediate housing relief.
Since we open applications separately for each new build, our application cycle is irregular, and it is difficult to predict exactly when applications will be available. Check out the Apply page to see if applications are available or fill out an interest form to be notified once they are open!
To apply to our Homeownership Program, people must first submit a pre–application. This form will be available for six weeks and requires the submission of paystubs and tax returns. Everyone who submits a pre-application will receive a response from Habitat Greater Boston. If the family or individual has met the requirements mentioned above, they will be invited to complete the rest of the application and submit additional documentation related to identity, assets, and income verification.
If your application is determined to be financially qualified, you must participate in a 30-minute virtual interview followed by a home visit from volunteer members of our Homeowner Selection Committee. The committee will then determine which applicants should be entered into the housing lottery or in some cases they will decide among themselves which families are selected for homes based on the guidelines discussed above.
Housing Resource Guide
Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston’s Housing Resource Guide contains information on various programs and organizations related to housing in Greater Boston. There are resources related to rental assistance, home repairs, homeownership, energy assistance, and more.