In response to Mary Hodge’s letter to the editor (“I just want to understand,” Feb. 5), there are only three criteria considered when selecting a family for a Habitat for Humanity house:

1. Ability to Pay – A common misconception is that Habitat houses are given to families at no charge. Habitat homeowners purchase their house, and potential homeowners must demonstrate the financial ability to maintain a 30-year mortgage. To qualify for a Habitat house in Guadalupe County, total household income must be between 30% and 80% of the area median income as determined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

2. Housing Need – A site visit is made to a financially-qualified applicant’s current residence to determine their need for safer, more adequate housing.

3. Willingness to Partner – Every member of a Habitat homeowner family 18 years of age or older is required to contribute 200 hours of “sweat equity” in the construction of their house, or in other service to Habitat (e.g., volunteering at the Habitat Store in downtown Seguin). Homeowner families also are required to attend financial literacy and homeowner education classes before taking possession of their Habitat house.

Contrary to Ms. Hodge’s suggestion, race and ethnicity are NOT considered when selecting Habitat homeowners, and of course is prohibited by federal law. Persons applying for a local Habitat home must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S., and have resided or worked in Guadalupe County for at least six months immediately prior to the date of their application. In addition, the marital status of all applicants must be clear. Applicants can be married or unmarried, but not separated.

Applications for Guadalupe Valley Habitat for Humanity houses are accepted during the months of February and August each year. For additional information about applying for a GVHFH house and to download an application form, please see our website, or visit with our affiliate staff at the Habitat Store, 256 W. Court St., Seguin.

Madeline Zwicke is the Executive Director of Guadalupe County Habitat For Humanity.

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