Habitat for Humanity of Collin County works to address the two biggest hurdles to homeownership for middle-to-low-income families: down payments and monthly mortgage payments. Since its inception in 1976, the organization has helped 6.8 million people worldwide achieve strength, stability, and independence through safe, decent, and affordable housing.

McKinney resident LaTischa Johnson is one of these 6.8 million people. Johnson experienced challenges after going through a divorce and adjusting to being a single mom. Before applying to Habitat for Humanity, Johnson said her family was cramped into a two-bedroom apartment.

Determined to provide stability for her children, Joy and Montrell, she applied to be a homeowner through Habitat for Humanity. When Johnson was told her application was accepted and she would be a homeowner, she said she was overjoyed.

“I felt a huge weight being lifted off my heart,” Johnson said.

As a result of the pandemic, Johnson has had to wait almost two years for construction on her home to begin. She selected a lot where Habitat is planning to pour the foundation of the Johnsons’ home later this year.

“This experience has been full of emotions,” she said. “I have learned to allow patience and gratitude to take over my emotions, which has caused the process to be even more rewarding.”

Marketing Coordinator Joe Overley said one of the most common misconceptions people have about Habitat for Humanity is that homeowners are given their homes for free.

All homeowners through Habitat actually purchase their home and they still have a mortgage and closing costs, he said.

A requirement of Habitat homeowners is the completion of their sweat equity to acquire their home. Each qualified family must complete between 250-500 sweat equity hours before closing and moving into the house, according to the organization’s website. Families can complete their hours by volunteering in the community or helping to build their own homes.

Johnson has been volunteering at Samaritan Inn to complete her required number of hours.

When a person goes through the homeowner application process, their monthly mortgage rate is fixed and it does not exceed 30% of their household income. This fixed rate allows homeowners to make their monthly payments and still have funds for other necessities.

Without a down payment or a high mortgage payment, Habitat for Humanity makes homeownership more attainable for medium-to-low-income families.

Habitat for Humanity is known for the houses they build, but Overley said that is not the biggest thing they do.

When people apply for a home through Habitat, they are matched with a mentor who walks them through the entire process. Homeowners have made lifelong friends through the process and gain the support of the community around their new home, Overley said.

“They don’t just get a house, they get a place to call home,” Overley said.

Johnson said she is looking forward to her family having a place of their own, and her kids having their own rooms.

Having a home of their own will help provide the stability they need, she said.

As a result of this stability, she plans to finish her degree. Johnson received her associate’s degree in child development and has begun working on her bachelor’s degree in human development and family services at UNT.

Once Johnson and her family are settled into their new home, she said she would love to be able to plant some beautiful flowers around the yard and set up a nice patio set where she can sit down to relax and read a good book.

She said she feels she has another chance at a better life by being selected by Habitat for Humanity.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity of Collin County, habitatcollincounty.org/

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