Habitat for Humanity’s Home Ownership Program Builds Lives

Andy appreciates the requirements he must complete to become a Wichita Habitat for Humanity homebuyer.

“It doesn’t seem like work,” Andy said of the 250 hours of sweat equity he earns, working alongside staff and volunteers on build sites. On a recent summer day, Andy was helping install siding on a home. Eventually, Andy will start building his own home. It usually takes a person or a couple between 6 to 18 months to complete the requirements and purchase their affordable home on a 0% interest mortgage. Couples must complete 400 hours of sweat equity.

“The volunteers and staff are so dedicated,” Andy said. “They motivate me … and I’m learning with experienced people.”

Andy immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia in the winter of 2020. “I was on the last flight leaving during COVID,” he said.

While he waited for his work permit, Andy volunteered with Wichita Habitat, never imagining he would one day be on the path to owning a Habitat home. Andy eventually went to work at Walmart and continued volunteering.

One of the future homebuyers suggested he look into becoming a Habitat homeowner. Because Andy met the income criteria, needed housing, and was willing to partner with Habitat, he was accepted into the program.

Core Volunteers mentor new homeowners as they learn everything from financing to building.

Andy said he appreciates the sweat equity because it will help him maintain his own home. “I won’t have to hire someone every time,” he said. He’ll know how to avoid deferred maintenance and make many repairs. “I also enjoy it.”

Andy, like all Wichita Habitat homebuyers, is taking 40 hours of classes in financial literacy to ensure he’s successful. He also works with a budget coach. Together, they look at his income and expenses and how to set aside money for emergencies.

“He (budget coach) keeps me on track,” Andy said. “I’ve learned that my expenses will be higher in the future when I own my home. My water bill will be higher. I’ll need to take care of my lawn. I’ll be responsible for anything that happens and won’t be able to call the landlord,” he explained. However, he added, “I will own my own house!”

Andy appreciates the stability and independence that come with homeownership. He noted that rising rents and eviction are issues that worry people who earn low and modest incomes. “Owning my own home will give me a sense of security,” he said. “It takes worries away from people.”

Learn more about the details of Wichita Habitat’s homeownership program here https://wichitahabitat.org/programs/own-a-home/