FAQs

Please select a question to learn more:

Q: What is Habitat for Humanity?
A: Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need.

Q: What does Habitat for Humanity work?
A: Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner (partner) families. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit, financed with affordable, no-interest loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are used to build still more Habitat houses. Habitat is not a giveaway program. In addition to a down payment and the monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor — sweat equity — into building their Habitat house and the houses of others. Qualifying families purchase their home at cost. They must take an interest-free mortgage which they pay back over 20 years.

Q: How does Habitat for Humanity find/buy houses and property?
A: In many cases, cities and towns will donate or sell town-owned property at a discounted price to Habitat for affordable housing. In addition, sometimes houses in need of repair and renovation will be donated. When those resources are exhausted, Habitat will buy property or homes in need of repair using money raised through donations or mortgage payments of current Habitat partner families.

Q: How much does a Habitat house cost?
A: Housing costs vary throughout the country, and the world, for that matter. For Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell, the cost of building a home averages between $130,000 and $650,000. Habitat homes are affordable for low-income families because there is no profit included in the sale price and no interest charged on the mortgage.

Q: How are Habitat partner families selected?
A: Families in need of decent shelter apply to local Habitat affiliates. The affiliate’s Family Selection Committee chooses homeowners based on their level of need, their willingness to become partners in the program, and their ability to repay a no-interest loan. Every affiliate follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection; neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing the families who receive Habitat homes.

Q: What must a family do to become a Habitat partner family?
A: Partner families are selected based on several criteria. Families must demonstrate financial need, have an ability to make monthly mortgage payments and a $750 down payment, and commit to volunteering up to 400 hours of volunteer labor on their own home or other Habitat projects, among other things.

Q: What happens to a partner family’s mortgage payments?
A: A Habitat partner family’s monthly mortgage payments become part of a revolving fund, which is used to acquire property and build more homes for more partner families.

Q: What if a partner family wants to move out of  their home?
A: The contract a partner family signs gives Habitat the first option of buying the house back from the partner family. The partner family does not lose money in the process. HFHGL seeks families that are willing to make a long-term commitment to living in their homes.

Q: What towns does HFHGL build in?
A: HFHGL builds homes in Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Reading, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, Wakefield, Westford, and Wilmington.

Q: Who can volunteer with HFHGL?
A: Anyone can volunteer in a variety of ways!

Q: Can I volunteer with HFHGL if I don’t live in the HFHGL service area?
A: Volunteers from any town are more than welcome to volunteer with HFHGL; however, volunteers can search for the Habitat affiliate most conveniently located to them by going to the Habitat affiliate search engine.

Q: Do volunteers need to have special skills to work at a construction site?
A: Nope! People of all skill levels are welcome to help on site. HFHGL site supervisors provide safety and job training on the day of a build. Site supervisors work to find the most appropriate tasks for volunteers to do based on the volunteer’s skills and comfort level.

Q: What days are volunteers needed? Can I work on the weekends?
A: HFHGL construction and building normally occurs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; however, there are also plenty of volunteer opportunities that do not involve being on the build site. Check out our current volunteer opportunities.

Q: Do volunteers need to bring their own tools? How about lunch?
A: Tools are provided by HFHGL; however, if volunteers are more comfortable using their own tools, HFHGL recommends that volunteers make sure the tools are labeled. This will ensure the tools do not get lost or damaged. HFHGL is not responsible for any misplaced or damaged tools.

Lunch is provided for volunteers. Should volunteers have any special dietary needs, or prefer to bring their own lunches, HFHGL asks that they make a note of this when they sign up.

Q: Can youth help build?
A: Youth who are 16 years of age and older may help build on a construction site; however, there are a number of other ways that younger people can help. Youth can design and make site signs, window boxes, birdhouses, and other design elements that make a house a home. They can also help run a fundraising event or do public speaking at their church or school.

Q: What can I do other than help build a house?
A: There are a number of other ways volunteers can help HFHGL, besides building. Volunteers can bring their expertise or talents to one of the HFHGL committees, prepare lunch for people on site, or simply provide donations to help HFHGL continue its work!

Q: Does HFHGL accept donations of old or unused building materials?
A: Yes we do accept new and used building material, electrical, lighting, appliances, some home  goods and furniture at our ReStore located at 257 Boston Road, Billerica, MA 01862.  Donations are accepted Tue-Sat.  The ReStore also offers a pickup service.  You will need to call the store at 978-215-9975 to arrange a pickup.   Also at the ReStore are Recycle That bins.  Donations of clothing, shoes, accessories, cds, books may be dropped off at any time.  The bins are located at the side of the ReStore building.  Visit the ReStore website for additional information.