Family Selection/Support

Washington Country Habitat for Humanity (WCHH)


Members of the family support committee are available to all partner families for support including educational opportunities as well as a forum to discuss issues of concern that the families might have. See also the page with Resources Available to Assist Families


How Do I Apply?

Washington County Habitat for Humanity (WCHH),  as of October 1, 2017, is not accepting. We will post when we once again begin the process of receiving applications.


How does WCHH select partners?

Quick answer: Each potential HfH partner family must submit an application. From these applications a family is chosen by our Family Selection Committee based on need, the ability to repay the mortgage, and the willingness to properly maintain the property. No profit is made on the sale of the house and no interest is charged on the mortgage.

In general, it takes about one to two years from application to move-in for the chosen family.

More details:
The Habitat for Humanity family selection process differs from many housing programs. Not all low income persons will qualify. Habitat is looking for families that are in unacceptable housing situations (i.e.: lacking decent, affordable shelter), and who are eager and willing to work for something better.

We evaluate applying families in terms of their need for decent, affordable shelter, their eagerness and willingness to work; and their ability to be good homeowners – both in the sense of maintaining the house and grounds in respectable condition, as well as in the sense of responsibility and faithfully discharging their financial obligation to Habitat and to others in the form of payments (i.e.: mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs, etc.).

All who feel they are truly needy, and who can sincerely commit themselves to involvement and responsibilities, are invited to apply to Habitat for home ownership. Any applicant family selected for further consideration as potential homeowners with Habitat will be personally interviewed in their current home by members of our Family Selection Committee.

The process of choosing Habitat families sometimes takes a while (in some cases one to two years) so we ask for your patience. The steps involved are:

  • The Family Selection Committee reviews applications at a meeting. Those families who clearly do not qualify are sent notices why they do not qualify. Those applications that are still missing some information are contacted, and the applications are reviewed again at another meeting when all the information has been obtained.
  • The families still under consideration are visited by members of the Family Selection Committee.
  • The results of the visits (and other verified information) are discussed at the next Committee meeting. Sometimes a second visitation is needed.
  • Successful applicants are notified and the process of designing a house to meet the new partner’s needs is begun.

How long does the process take from application to move-in?

It takes about one to two year for the entire process. This depends on weather, availability of a building site, availability of funds to buy materials, and number of volunteers available to work on the house.

What assistance is provided after the partner moves in?

WCHH will continue to support the partner family after move in. We now have ten families in Habitat homes. We will assist you and any other WCHH client families on an “as needed” basis for developing skills in:

  • Budgeting
  • General homeowner maintenance
  • Electrical and plumbing maintenance
  • Home safety
  • Getting along with your neighbors (being a good neighbor)
  • Energy conservation
  • Lawn and garden maintenance
  • Economical meal planning and healthful dieting
  • Being involved with educating your children

What choices on the house do partners have?

Many of the selections in the house are made for you. Our objective is to provide a house with quality construction, energy efficiency, and functional floor plan. WCHH will select materials and practices to equal or exceed Brenham City code requirements. The cost of your house will be based on local acquisition of all materials and necessary professional services and fees at fair market value for other builders in the area. For example, the framing timbers, siding material, insulation, wiring, foundation specifications, and windows will all be selected by WCHH.

Sometimes we have an opportunity to use donated goods and services which will reduce our cost and allow us to use our money to build more homes. If you are satisfied with the donated items and approve their use, then they may be used in your house. If you prefer to use products and services that are not donated for whatever reason (such as color availability, style preference, or personal taste) then we will use your choice as long as it is within the original specifications. WCHH will not use any previously used (salvaged) materials.

There are some materials and services where you may make your selection since there may be several different choices that all cost about the same. You just need to decide which you prefer, These are referred to as “allowances”. These choices are for:

  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Lighting fixtures and location of fixtures
  • Carpet vs. vinyl tile for flooring
  • Kitchen and bathroom counter top colors and design
  • Cabinets and shelves
  • Door and cabinet hardware
  • Front and back door styles
  • Shower vs. bathtub-shower combination
  • Interior and exterior paint colors
  • Interior ceiling and wall texture
  • Roof color
  • Landscaping

What does WCHH do?

WCHH will help you build a house to meet your needs. We do not build a house for you, it is a partnership effort. The program is designed to assist persons that have the financial abilities to own a house, but that may have difficulty meeting normal lending agency requirements for a down payment and interest payments.

All volunteer labor is free. Some contract labor is used where special skills are required to assure quality construction or to meet legal (City code) requirements. WCHH will arrange all subcontracting, building inspections, and connections to utilities (water, sewer, electricity, gas, phone). The cost of the house is the contract amount based on the estimated cost of the materials and required contract labor at the signing of the agreement with the partner. Some portions of the house cost are based on “allowances” and the actual cost of the house will depend on the selections made by the partner. Your selection of these allowance items will affect the final amount of your loan. The rest of the cost of the house is based on the cost estimate made initially and agreed to with you at the time the contract is signed.

WCHH will serve as the mortgage company. Monthly payments for the loan on the house will be paid directly to WCHH. WCHH collects money for property and school taxes and insurance and pays these bills for the homeowner.

What happens if the cost of building the home exceeds (or comes under) the original cost estimate?

The partner family is responsible for only the contracted amount, which is based on a cost estimate made before the house is built. The actual costs for materials and contract labor may be different from the estimate, but the partner family (new homeowner) is responsible only for the contracted amount.

If the partner family makes selections in the building “allowances” that change the final cost of the house (either above or below the initial estimate) then the contract price will be adjusted to take into account those changes.

What happens if the partner can’t make payments?

If for some reason the new homeowner is unable to make monthly payments, he or she will be contacted by WCHH and arrangements will be discussed to help the partner avoid defaulting on the loan. If the partner is unable to make suitable arrangements and no payments are made over several months, and or commitments are not kept,  WCHH will repossess the house. This is a situation we do not want to happen. It is not good for the partner or WCHH. Both of us have failed if this occurs. If you see financial problems that will cause you to be delinquent in your house payments, contact WCHH personnel (Family Selection and Support or some the member of the Executive Committee) as soon as possible.

What is ‘sweat equity’?

Each partner family is required to make a down payment of at least 400 hours of “sweat equity”, that is, the family is expected to work on the building of their house or another Habitat home, before they are eligible to close on and move into their home. The children in the family may earn “sweat equity” hours by improving their school grades. Other family members, church associates, or friends can also work on behalf of the partner family to earn the necessary hours if there is a hardship that makes it impractical for the partners to work themselves. Earned hours can be performed on any house that WCHH is building. Attendance at committee meetings and any WCHH sponsored activities can count towards sweat equity hours.

What is the partner family expected to do?

A partner family contributes its sweat equity through construction activities on their home. Painting, caulking, landscaping, cleaning the jobsite and tools are just some of the responsibilities of the partner family.  Our partner family also participates in decisions regarding the building of the house. There is some flexibility in the floor plan, so the first step is to work with the WCHH design team to determine what is best for the future homeowner. This may involve location of a utility room, choice of a second bathroom size and location, and access to the house for any physical handicap needs. Certain style options are also selected by the partner, requiring numerous “shopping trips” to stores to pick out paint colors, flooring, cabinet materials, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, door and cabinet hardware, kitchen and bath counter tops, and other minor items.

What is the typical monthly cost for a family partner?

The cost of the house will depend a little on the size of the house, but it runs about $78/ square foot in 2012. That means that a three bedroom house is about $84,000 based on approximately 1070 sq ft. The actual cost is based on a building cost estimate prepared prior to signing a contract with the partner. The loan is paid out over 20 years with no interest, so the monthly principal note is just $84,000 / (240 months or $345.00 per month)

Besides the principal note payment, Habitat will collect each month an amount to cover insurance and property taxes on the house. Habitat requires that the partner purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy, which provides coverage in the event of damage or destruction of the house from fire or other hazards. Under a homeowner’s policy, contents of the house are also insured. The cost of a homeowner’s policy varies, depending on the insurance company and the partner’s insurance history. However, for a three-bedroom home, a partner should plan to budget about $90.00 per month for insurance.

The partner is also responsible for payment of property taxes on the house. The amount of taxes each year is determined by the value of the house, as assessed by the Washington County Tax Appraisal District. For 2012, the taxes for a three-bedroom house valued at $86,000 were approximately $1,750.00  or $150 per month.

Including the principal payment, insurance and taxes, the partner can expect a house payment of around $500 per month.

In addition to the house payment, there are other expenses that are required to keep the house running.

Electricity and gas costs depend on the homeowner’s preferences (how he or she sets the thermostat, how long they stay in the shower, how careful they are about closing doors) as well as how many family members there are (more people use more energy). The house is built to be energy efficient. Energy efficient appliances are used and the walls and ceiling are well insulated. Windows are double pane insulating glass thermal barriers. So, your electricity bill is likely to be less than a comparable apartment or rent house that you may have been in previously. Typical costs may be $85 to $185/month.

City services for water and sewer, also depend on the homeowner’s usage. These costs range from about $35/month in the summer to $15/month in the winter for water service. Summer bills are frequently higher because of watering lawns. The sewer rate is about $15/mo.

The city also charges for garbage pickup. This is approximately costs $16.75/month.

What size house does WCHH build?

House sizes and floor plans are adjusted to meet individual partner family needs and preferences, within certain limitations. One of the first steps after a partner is selected is to meet with the Design and Construction Committee and begin the design process.

The size of the house that is built depends on the needs of the family. We build 2, 3, and 4 bedroom houses to meet those needs. All dimensions below are approximate and are guidelines from Habitat International.

  • A two bedroom house is about 900 square feet (about 20 ft x 45 ft)
  • A three bedroom house is about 1070 square feet (about 20 ft x 55 ft)
  • A four bedroom house is about 1230 square feet (about 20 ft x 60 ft)

The lot size is typically 50 ft x100 ft. A garage is not included. Attic space is provided for storage. A storage shed (approximately 8 ft x 12 ft) is usually the first item built. It provides a space to store tools and supplies during the house construction and is left for the homeowner.