qualify and apply

The Habitat for Humanity Homeownership Program provides a unique opportunity for hardworking families to “build and buy” their own homes. Houses are sold to new homeowners with an affordable mortgage. Home payments vary. 

Our affiliate builds homes in Salem, Keizer, Stayton, Lyons, Aumsville, Mill City, Mehama, Sublimity, Turner, Dallas, Independence, and Monmouth. If you are interested in purchasing a Habitat home elsewhere, contact the Habitat affiliate in your area.

Applications for the 2024 Homeownership Program are not currently accepted will be accepted until March, 15th at 4 p.m.

For any questions, please contact Kattrina Osborn at 503-342-1268 or Kattrina@salemhabitat.org.

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basic qualifications

  • Must be a United States citizen or permanent legal resident
  • Must live in our affiliate service area for at least 12 months (click here to verify your zip code is in our service area)
  • Cannot have owned a home during the past 3 years
  • Cannot have a bankruptcy discharged within the past 3 years
  • Currently living in sub-standard, subsidized, overcrowded or unaffordable housing
  • Must be willing to contribute 500 volunteer hours – “sweat equity” (250 hours for households with 1 adult)
  • Must have proof of steady income sufficient to repay an affordable mortgage and satisfactory credit history
  • Must be within 50% to 80% of the Marion County median household income
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Income requirements are subject to annual revision. Current income values are valid until April, 2025.

how to apply

Applications are currently closed. To sign up for our information list and be notified of future application dates, click below.  

information sessions

Application Information sessions are held prior to each round of selection for the Homeownership Program. Check our Facebook page for updated meeting times and places. At the Application Information Meeting we will distribute Homeownership Program applications and discuss:

  • Habitat 101- Who We Are & What We Do
  • The Homeownership Program (benefits, qualifications, requirements, where we build, Habitat for Humanity mortgages and home payments)
  • How to Complete an Application Form
  • How Applicants Are Selected
  • What to Expect if You Are Selected

upcoming sessions



What are the qualifications for the Homeownership Program?

Our criteria are need, willingness to partner, and ability to pay. Need can be determined by financial need, need for disability access, substandard housing, homelessness or housing insecurity. Willingness to partner is determined by your agreement to perform sweat equity and meet our program criteria. Ability to pay is always based on something that is affordable for your household, and according to limitations provided by HUD, is capped at 30% of your income.

Who can be a part of my household? How is my household size determined?

Individuals who are currently living in the household are considered when determining household size and the number of bedrooms the applicant qualifies for. A child generally is only considered in regards to household size if the applicant has at least 50% custody of that child. If a person is pregnant during the application process, the unborn child will be counted towards household size. Persons who are household members but not currently living in the home due to active military service, working away from home, attending college, or incarcerated, may be counted as household members if you expect that they will live in the home full time when they return. Please be sure to explain any household size situations in your application. If you count someone as a household member in one part of your application, then you must include them as household members throughout the entire application (declaring income, assets, debt, etc.)

How is the number of bedrooms determined?

Habitat determines the house size based on the household size and make up. The person applying for a home will receive a bedroom and be expected to share with their spouse/partner. Adult couples who are not the applicants will get their own bedroom. Two children of the same gender may be expected to share one bedroom, depending on their ages. Habitat is able to accommodate accessibility needs for persons with disabilities.

Do I have to be a US Citizen or have permanent residency?

Anyone applying must be a legal permanent resident of the United States and be able to provide proof of legal residency such as a US Passport, Permanent Resident Card, US Birth Certificate, etc. We also ask that married couples apply together as applicant and co-applicant.

Will a credit check be required?

Yes. A credit check is a part of the process. In addition, rental history, sex offender check, criminal background check, income verification, paystubs, tax returns and bank statements will be reviewed.

How long will it take for me to get a home?

The whole process from application to move in may take up to 18 months. There are many factors involved with getting your home: available land, sweat equity hours, specific needs, etc. We are committed to getting you in your home as quickly as possible and in return we appreciate your hard work and patience.

Once an application is completed and turned in, what happens next?

Your initial application will be reviewed and evaluated based on the information you have supplied. If your application is not rejected for any disqualifying reason, you will be asked to provide additional supporting documentation in evidence of your income, debt and certain expenses. This documentation may include paystubs, benefit statements, tax returns, copies of your birth certificate, passport or residency card, bank statements, and more.

We may conduct credit, criminal and sex offender screening at any point during the process. If your application passes this round of evaluation, we will contact you to schedule an interview which may include a home visit. This entire process may take several weeks or months. You will receive a notification at least every 30 days, if not sooner, regarding the status of your application and any actions that you must take.

After the interview and home visit, (if any) Habitat will review all information gathered throughout the process and determine who will be selected into the Habitat Homeownership Program. The entire process from turning in your initial paper application to receiving an acceptance or denial letter is considered our “application process”.  A complete application must be submitted in order to be accepted.

How does a Habitat mortgage work?

Habitat’s home ownership program is unique in two ways: (1) Habitat sells houses at the cost of materials plus real estate without adding in profit; 2) Habitat sells the house charging only a minimal interest rate. The low-interest mortgage is significant because a loan from a commercial bank adds higher, market-rate interest payments, which oftentimes will double the “cost” of the home to the buyer.

Our goal is that families repay their mortgages as fast as they are able. Mortgages are for up to 30 years in order to keep payments affordable. There is no penalty to the buyer for paying off the mortgage ahead of schedule – though other restrictions may remain in place for the entire original mortgage period.

Do I get to choose where I live?

Lots are offered as they become available. We have built homes in several areas in Salem and surrounding communities, so there is no guarantee where your lot will be.

How can I earn sweat equity hours?

The primary way to earn sweat equity hours is by working at the construction site. At least half of your hours must be completed on site. Additional hours may be earned by working in the Habitat office, attending Habitat classes, helping at the ReStore, and attending special events. New ideas to earn sweat equity are always welcome but must be approved ahead of time by talking with Habitat staff.

What are homeowner classes?

An important part of preparing Partner Families for the responsibilities and potential pitfalls of homeownership are the classes that Habitat for Humanity requires you to attend. There are at least two series of classes on the topics of Financial Planning and First Time Homebuyer. Partner families are expected to attend these classes (counted towards sweat equity hours). These classes are performed by a licensed third party.

How big will my house be?

House size depends on the number of family members who will be living there. The following is the maximum square footage for each house size: 900 square feet for a two-bedroom house, 1070 square feet for a three bedroom house, 1230 square feet for a four-bedroom house. The square foot numbers describe living space not including stairwells, crawl space and exterior storage.

Do I have a choice about what goes into my home?

Yes, we have a list of options for some parts of the home. To keep the house affordable, these options are limited.

Does my house come with any warranties?

There is a one-year warranty on all work done by Habitat. This warranty excludes damage resulting from wear and tear. There is also a one-year warranty on all subcontracted work such as plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling.

What if I need or want to sell my house?

We want to build homes for people to live in, not to sell and make a profit. However, we have guidelines for selling your home. All of the details will be discussed during our homeowner meetings.

What about existing debt?

Having debt does not automatically disqualify you from the homeownership program. The amount of debt, your payment history and current income will be evaluated during the application process to determine whether your debt-to-income ratio is within our limits.

In some cases, we may refer you to debt management classes to help you better qualify for housing in our program. In order to be able to complete the program and qualify for housing, your total monthly debt service, including your anticipated mortgage principal and interest, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, may not exceed 40% of your monthly income.

If I own another home, can I still qualify for Habitat’s Homeownership Program?

Our requirements are that you do not own a home anywhere else. This applies even if you are a partial owner or co-signer, even if you do not live in that other home. If you currently own a home and there are special circumstances that apply (pending divorce, poor condition of the housing, etc.) please explain those circumstances in your application.

What types of income are counted when I apply?

All forms of regular, stable income should be included as a part of household income and will be considered. If you are regularly seasonally employed and receive
unemployment compensation for part of the year, both your wages and the unemployment compensation will be counted as “income.” All income must be documented if we ask for it.

Documentation may include items such as paystubs, benefit statements or award letters, copies of court ordered support or alimony, etc. Temporary income, or income that will not continue past 3 years’ time is generally not considered.