Just as it takes every nail, every board and every gallon of paint to finish a Habitat for Humanity home, it also takes every hour of hard work by future homeowners and volunteers, every ounce of support from generous donors, and every bit of building expertise to guide the construction process.
In every Habitat home, you find the work and dedication of so many people, all working with a common goal: helping another family build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.
Sweat equity is a term used often when talking about the creation or building process. It’s about doing the work — the hard work — to bring an idea to life. That work becomes an investment in the project. It can be an investment as real as money or land.
According to Ivestopedia, an online financial resource, sweat equity is the “contribution to a project or enterprise in the form of effort and toil. Sweat equity is the ownership interest, or increase in value, that is created as a direct result of hard work by the owner(s). It is the preferred mode of building equity for cash-strapped entrepreneurs in their start-up ventures, since they may be unable to contribute much financial capital to their enterprise.”
At Habitat for Humanity, sweat equity is a new homeowner investing in their home or one for another family. It’s not a form of payment, but an opportunity to work alongside volunteers who give their time to bring to life a family’s dream of owning a home.
Sweat equity can take many forms for partner families working with Habitat. It can mean construction work on their home or on a home for another family, cleaning up the build site, working in a Habitat ReStore, assisting in administrative duties, or countless other ways of helping out. Children sometimes also can contribute to the family’s sweat equity through things like earning good grades in school.
Homeownership classes — learning how to manage a home or finances — also count as sweat equity. Families invest their time in the long-term success of their homeownership. Throughout the process of purchasing their home, Habitat partner families can earn sweat equity credit as they learn about their mortgage, insurance, maintenance, safety and more.
The idea behind sweat equity, families working side by side with volunteers to build their homes, goes back to even before Habitat for Humanity began in 1976. Clarence Jordan — the founder of Koinonia Farm, where Habitat for Humanity began — wrote in a 1968 letter, “What the poor need is not charity but capital, not case workers but co-workers.”
That co-worker approach informs Habitat’s emphasis on sweat equity: all of us working together so that homeowners can achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and for their families.
Becoming a homeowner is a large endeavor for everyone involved. It takes a lot of hard work and determination, but we continually meet people like you who are up for the challenge.
We want to do everything we can to help prepare you for the day you receive your keys, and well beyond. One way we do that is through financial education.
As part of the required sweat equity portion of the Habitat homeowner process, we believe that financial education leads to a greater investment in the home. Additionally, it builds a more solid foundation for long-term personal success. Household finances are a source of stress no matter the size of your income or family, and we want to help alleviate any concerns or barriers on your path to homeownership.
Much like having a safe, affordable place to call home will boost your sense of well-being and pride, being able to take control of your finances will give you confidence and momentum to dream bigger. It starts with a house, but where it goes after that is up to you.
During these financial education classes, we’ll cover topics such as budgeting, credit cards and credit reports, debt and loans, saving, investing and planning for the future, emergency situations, as well as Habitat homeowner mortgages. Gaining a more in-depth understanding of these important concepts will become part of a tool belt you can use to build a better future.
A Brush With Kindness Program
Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush with Kindness Program serves low-income homeowners with minor exterior repairs to their homes. Examples of common repair projects include painting, landscaping, windows and doors.
A Brush with Kindness Program is completed at minimal costs to homeowners who are unable to complete home repairs on their own. Habitat provides a zero interest home improvement loan to cover material costs, permit fees, and insurance. Able-bodied homeowners are encouraged to work alongside the volunteers in a cooperative effort. Homeowners are required to provide 25 hours of sweat equity after application approval and before the project begins.
Brush With Kindness Qualifications