I read a news article just a few days ago that reported that, according to the Center for Responsible Lending, an estimated 1 million foreclosures have been filed so far in 2009.
The Mortgage Bankers Association also recently revealed that 12 percent of all mortgages are now delinquent, the highest level in the 37 years the association has been measuring delinquency rates.
While this is very disheartening and sad for the millions of Americans who are now faced with losing their homes – for many because of situations far beyond their control – it is further proof that what we are doing at Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio is working.
Our foreclosure rate is currently under 2 percent – astoundingly low given today’s economy and when weighing it against the national rate of 4 percent. We are beating the national trends and it is due in part to the hard work of the families who come to Habitat for a “hand up, not a hand out.”
This is just another opportunity to debunk a couple of myths about Habitat for Humanity and the hardworking families who are part of our program.
MYTH: Habitat gives homes away.
FACT: Absolutely not. We sell our homes to families who enter our program on a 0% interest, 20-year mortgage. These families work hard to complete 300 hours of sweat equity prior to moving into their homes, and just judging by our low foreclosure rate, they continue to pay their affordable mortgage payments. These families made a down payment, attended homeownership education classes and met all the requirements of our home-buying program as part of their partnership with HFHSA.
MYTH: Habitat neighborhoods are bad for the community.
FACT: A big FALSE. $27 million have been added to the tax rolls in Bexar County as a direct result of Habitat homes. Studies also show that homeownership builds better citizens. Because HFHSA is the only organization within Bexar County to offer homeownership as an option to such a low-income level, we’ve reached an entire portion of the population that might not have otherwise had the opportunity to become homeowners and reap the benefits of homeownership.
The benefits of homeownership are numerous to both the community and the families. First, Habitat families have already developed a sense of community before they ever move into their homes by working side by side with their future neighbors on the construction site.
Secondly, once they move into their homes they are far more likely to continue maintaining them and making improvements to them than if they were renting. Homeowners have higher voter turnout and are more likely to participate in civic organizations, attend church and become involved in their children’s schools.
Their children are more likely to become future homeowners and less likely to be on welfare by the age of 20. The list could go on and on.
There is so much more to be said about Habitat and its building program. To learn more, consider attending on of our Hab-i-Tours. The next one is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. June 19. It lasts only an hour and is a great opportunity to learn more about the need for affordable housing in San Antonio, the mission of HFHSA and hear from staff and Habitat families.
Give us a call at 210-223-5203 if you’d like to attend.
by Shelly, Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio Staff