Providing Greater Lowell/ Northern Middlesex Area families a Hand Up not a Hand Out through affordable homeownership

Partner Family Criteria

HFHGL always looks forward to welcoming and working with new partner families. Our organization is as much about people-building as it is about house-building!

While homeownership is an exciting thought, HFHGL cautions potential partner families that the process can be lengthy, that it can require lots of hard work, and that no one step guarantees a home. There are several requirements that partner families must meet in order to successfully own their own homes through HFHGL.

When choosing a new partner family…

The HFHGL Family Selection Committee considers the following criteria

– Current, annual income falls between 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income. The Family Selection Committee considers the income of the applicant(s) and the total income of all people who will live in a house. Income must be documented by federal tax returns.

Department of Housing and Urban Development, www.huduser.org.


-Current living conditions.

-Ability to make a down payment of $1,000 when selected and be able to fund closing costs of approximately $4,000 when the home is complete

-Ability to make a monthly mortgage payment not exceeding 30 percent of gross income.

Sweat Equity

All partner families must be willing and able to contribute “sweat equity” — or a set number of volunteer hours — as part of their participation in the HFHGL homeownership program. Every Habitat affiliate has different sweat equity criteria.

HFHGL sweat equity requirements are:
-A commitment of 450 hours for partnered homeowners or 225 hours for single homeowners.

-Sweat equity hours are logged and actively tallied during the homeownership process. Each entry must describe the nature of the hours contributed and must be signed by either a committee member or a member of the Board of Directors. Sweat equity hours will be verified and processed and progress reports will be mailed to the partner family on a regular basis.

-Each adult applicant must complete a minimum number of sweat equity hours per month to remain in good standing (typically 12 hours per month). Since the program is a partnership effort, families are expected to work on their houses, even if they have completed their sweat equity hours.

At least two-thirds of sweat equity hours must be completed working on HFHGL building sites, helping to construct the partner family’s own home, or the homes of other partner families. However, the following activities can be used to fulfill the remaining one-third of sweat equity hours:

-Contributing to HFHGL operations, such as office tasks, helping with fundraising efforts, or staffing a HFHGL event.

-Attending first-time home buyer or homeownership classes.

-Partner families may engage friends and/or relatives to contribute a maximum of 100 hours towards their total sweat equity. These friends and/or relatives must be identifies prior to entering into an agreement with HFHGL. Partner families may not solicit hours from volunteers who happen to be working on the construction site. HFHGL staff, volunteers, and members of the Board of Directors cannot donate sweat equity hours to a partner family.

If a member of a partner family is deemed to have a physical condition that prohibits him or her from participating in physical work, the Board of Directors will determine on a case-by-case basis whether exceptions to the sweat equity policy should be made.

*Partner families are not allowed to move into their homes until sweat equity requirements have been fulfilled.

Additional Qualification Information for Habitat Homeownership:

1) Ability to pay for a Habitat home:

  • Income: Gross family income is 30-60% Greater Lowell median family income
  • Responsibility: Demonstrated ability to make payments in a timely manner
  • Debt: Projected debt payments (including the Habitat mortgage) should not be greater than 50% of the family’s monthly income, with mortgage alone not being more than 30%
  • Assets: Household assets should not exceed $75,000
  • Bankruptcy: Applicant should not have declared bankruptcy in the past two years

2) A Need for Adequate Shelter and Affordable Housing:  (This may include, but is not limited to, the following)

  • Problems with building such as rotting wood, water damage, missing floorboards, unsafe/missing handrails, inadequate heating, electricity, plumbing, etc.
  • Overcrowding: more than 3 family members in a bedroom, insufficient bedrooms
  • Insufficient housing: family living with relatives/friends, in shelter, other temporary living situations, homelessness
  • High rent: 50% or more of family gross income spent on housing
  • Issue with landlord: inadequate landlord maintenance
  • Safety issues: unsafe neighborhood, insufficient fire exits, hazardous or toxic materials

3) Willingness to partner with Habitat:

  • Applicants must attend monthly Family Partner Committee meetings
  • Applicants must complete sweat equity hours on the construction of their own or other Habitat home as well as required and recommended homeownership classes, dedications, Habitat events and other tasks
  • Qualified applicants for a Habitat home must be documented residents of the United States and first time homebuyers

**The Family Selection Committee uses the criteria to select families in a way that does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, age, handicap, religion, marital status or because all or part of the applicant’s income is derived from public assistance.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation. We encourage and support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there is no discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, age, or national origin. **

I’m Interested. What’s the Next Step?

For more information on applying to become a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell partner family, fill out and submit our Partner Family Interest Form or  print out and mail it to:

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell
Family Selection Committee
At Hicks Farm
124 Main Street
Westford, MA 01886