Building Healthy Homes and Healthy Lives
Habitat Family Selection Criteria: Addressing the connection between health and housing.
From Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County Executive Director John Moon.
Without a safe, decent, affordable home it’s difficult access what so many of us take for granted. Healthcare and education are usually the first to suffer if a family is living in substandard conditions.
Habitat for Humanity is keenly aware of the impacts of inadequate housing on health and this is reflected in our affiliate’s Family Selection Criteria and Qualifications. Many of Habitat’s Selection Criteria focus in on unsafe living conditions such as failing electrical, roof, wall, foundation, plumbing or heating systems. We also look at unhealthy conditions that are a direct result of poverty such as overcrowding. Some children have to share a bedroom with family members of opposite genders or in some cases don’t have a bedroom. Habitat’s Qualification Criteria forgives medical debt because this is often a debt of poverty, and not of choice. Otherwise, Habitat’s lending standards are similar to your bank’s standards. We look for steady income history, faithful repayment of any consumer debt and sensible debt to income ratios.
One of the most important ways to improve both health and education is by keeping shelter affordable. Typically Habitat limits the housing debt to 28% of gross income. This helps assure that there are enough funds for proper nutrition, doctor’s visits and school supplies.