A safe, stable, and affordable home is an essential building block of a thriving community.
Habitat for Humanity of the Greater La Crosse Region builds and rehabilitates homes in partnership with income-qualified families in our service region. We do not give houses away for free, but instead provide affordable and zero-interest mortgages to families that qualify.
To qualify for the Homeownership Program, you:
- Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- Must have lived in La Crosse, Trempealeau, Vernon, Monroe or Houston County for a year before applying.
- Cannot have had property foreclosed on for one year before applying.
- Have a total family income must fall between 30% to 80% of area median income*
*Income requirements change every year based on guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Please contact us to see if your income qualifies you.
Need for decent, affordable housing
We assess families’ current housing situations and note if you are living in unsafe, overcrowded, poorly maintained, and/or inaccessible housing. We also take into consideration how much of your income you spend on housing.
Ability to pay
Your family must be able to afford a mortgage, real estate taxes, and homeowners’ insurance. We look for steady income, debt, and credit history. If you have had credit issues in the past, this does not automatically disqualify you.
Willingness to partner
A partner family must commit to at least 150 hours of sweat equity, working alongside volunteers on Habitat projects. You must take homeowner education and credit counseling classes prior to purchasing your house, and you must turn in all application materials on time.
“Being a homeowner is a dream come true for Marcelina and her family. When seeing the plans for her home for the first time, Marcelina could hardly believe it was real.”
How to Apply
Homeowner Program Common Myths
People with disabilities can’t qualify for a Habitat home if they can’t help build their homes.
Having a disability does not prevent families from partnering with Habitat. In fact, Habitat works with future homeowners who have disabilities to design homes that meet their specific needs.
Habitat has a wide variety of volunteer options for future partner families that don’t require being on a job site, including volunteering at the ReStore, helping with events, and completing office work. We also work with future homeowners to provide accessible tasks they can complete in their homes, if possible. Habitat staff will work with the families to find other volunteer alternatives that will work for them.
Habitat only builds homes for certain minorities.
Habitat builds houses to help people in need regardless of race or ethnicity. Three criteria drive the family selection process: need, ability to repay the no-profit, no-interest mortgage over a 30-year period, and a willingness to partner with Habitat. The U.S. Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits denying anyone housing on the basis of race, sex, creed, marital status, color or national origin. The covenant that all local affiliates sign with Habitat for Humanity International also specifies that HFH homeowner families are selected “according to criteria that do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed or ethnic background.”
Habitat for Humanity gives houses away for free.
Habitat for Humanity builds houses to help those in need and then sells the houses to the homeowner partners. Because of Habitat’s no-profit, no-interest loans, and because houses are built principally by volunteers, mortgage payments are affordable for those unable to obtain conventional financing for a home. Habitat homeowners typically earn incomes that are 30-60 percent of the median income. They are required to invest an average of 150 hours of “sweat equity” – which is time spent building their own home or other Habitat homes.
You must be a Christian to become a Habitat homeowner.
Habitat for Humanity was founded as a Christian ministry. Homeowners are chosen without regard to creed, however, in keeping with legal requirements and with Habitat’s belief that God’s love extends to all – regardless of race, creed or nationality. We also welcome volunteers from all faiths – or no faith – who can actively embrace Habitat’s goal of eliminating poverty housing from the world.
Habitat houses allow people to move from poverty to fancy new houses.
Any newly built house is going to be a dramatic change for a family that has been living in substandard housing. But Habitat houses are not extravagant. Habitat’s philosophy is to build safe, decent homes that families can afford to maintain. We invite those curious about Habitat homes to visit and volunteer at a construction site.
Habitat houses lower neighborhood property values.
Many studies of low-cost housing show that affordable housing has no adverse effect on other neighborhood property values. In fact, Habitat for Humanity believes its approach to affordable housing can improve neighborhoods and communities by strengthening community spirit, increasing the tax base, and building better citizens through the cooperative efforts involved in Habitat construction.
Habitat homeowners sell their houses and make a large profit because of the original low cost.
Habitat Founder and former President Millard Fuller addresses this issue in A Simple, Decent Place to Live: The Building Realization of Habitat for Humanity (Word Publishing, 1995): “In the two decades of Habitat for Humanity…we have had no history of people selling their houses. Why? Because it’s so hard for these families to get the houses in the first place. It’s like an impossible dream come true. The fact that they can make a profit is not even an issue because they realize that if they sell it they won’t have a house anymore. And they wouldn’t be able to make payments the way the world would demand on a new one, since the bank or someone else attempting to make a big profit would now be the lender.” Special second mortgages that are “paid off” by living in the house, as well as first buy-back option clauses that many affiliates put into their agreement with homeowners, also help alleviate concerns that some people may have regarding the resale of houses.