Applying for a Habitat Home

STEP 1: Do You Qualify?
Review the qualification criteria:

  • Do you currently live in inadequate housing and/or
  • Do you pay more than 40% of your income for shelter?
  • Are you able to reliably pay $1,000-$1,500/month for housing?
  • Are you willing to participate in the Habitat for Humanity program?

In addition to the above qualifiers, please visit our Qualifying for Homeownership page to confirm you are eligible to apply.

STEP 2: Request an Application

To request an application please email us at or call 978-681-8858. We will provide you an application and schedule time to meet with our Family Services Coordinator to learn about Essex County Habitat’s homeownership program.

  • Receive information on how our homeownership program works
  • Learn more about the criteria that must be met to qualify for a Habitat home
  • Learn about where we are building and where the selected families will be living for this application cycle
  • Get answers to your questions about the Habitat program
STEP 3: Submit Your Application

Once you’ve met with our Family Selection Coordinator, you will be provided an application. All forms need to be completed and signed within 30 days of receiving the application or two weeks before the first Family Selection Committee meeting, whichever comes first. Essex County Habitat for Humanity reviews your application and calculates the applicant(s) income, applicant(s) debt, and conducts a credit check of everyone who will be on the mortgage. If you meet the guidelines and qualify, the applicant(s) will receive a phone call from a Family Selection Committee member to move to the next step.

What if I don’t qualify?

If applicants do not meet Essex County Habitat for Humanity financial and credit criteria and are not accepted into the program, you will receive a letter within 30 days with a description of the reason for the denial, who to contact to receive a free copy of their credit report, and a referral to a credit counseling service, if necessary.

STEP 4: Home Assesment and Interview

Financially qualified applicants will be contacted either by the Family Services Coordinator or a Family Services Committee (FSC) member to schedule a home assessment visit. Two home assessment visits take place at the applicant(s) current permanent residence to assess their housing need and willingness to partner and take on the responsibilities of Essex County Habitat’s homeownership program.

All applicants, including all members of their household, will be interviewed by two members of the Family Selection Committee during the home assessment visit. The approximately 30-minute interview provides an opportunity for an applicant and his/her family to explain:

  • Their interest in ECHFH
  • Their need for affordable housing
  • Why they believe they should be selected as a Habitat homeowner

It also provides an additional opportunity for applicants to ask questions concerning the program, the application process, selection process, build process, and any other questions you may have.

STEP 5: Application Review and Recommendation
  1. The Essex County Habitat for Humanity Family Services Committee reviews the application, documentation, and interview evaluations of the applicant(s) to ensure all requirements have been met.
  2. The FSC recommends for approval by the Board of Directors of Essex County Habitat for Humanity families to become homeowners for the houses being built in the application cycle.
  3. The recommendation and related information is then presented by the Executive Director or chair of the FSC to the ECHFH Board of Directors for acceptance into ECHFH Homeownership Program.
STEP 6: Congratulations, Your Partnership with Habitat Begins!

The start of the Habitat Partnership begins with signing a Partnership Agreement Letter (PAL). The PAL outlines the expectations for both selected partner families and for the affiliate. This does not mean that the applicant(s) OWNS the home. ALL requirements must be met, including, but not limited to:

  • Maintaining good credit standing
  • Completion of all Sweat Equity hours (240-360 hours helping to build your home).
  • Completion of all mandatory classes including a First Time Homebuyers Course, Financial Literacy Course, and/or any other classes deemed necessary, before applicant(s) can close on the home.

Please note: Forty five (45) days prior to home closing, all financials, credit-worthiness and ability-to-pay will be re-evaluated.

Additionally, selected homeowners are required to:

  • Pay closing costs estimated to be about $5,000.
  • Participate in the management of a condominium association where applicable.
  • Participate and support Habitat events and programs.

Homeowner applicants must be willing to live where ECHFH has land on which to build or where ECHFH is rehabilitating a home that ECHFH owns.

  • ECHFH DOES NOT build houses on land owned by an applicant.
  • ECHFH DOES NOT modify house plans at the request of the applicant, or accepted homeowner families, except in the case of certain documented medical conditions and as determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • ECHFH typically builds 2 story, three (3) bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths homes. However, the size of your family will determine the size of the home you qualify for.


The entire homeownership process from submitting your completed application, to completing the sweat equity requirements, to moving in, can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months or longer, depending on delays due to inclement weather; utility service and installation, and the scheduling of required city inspections.

Additional Information

If an applicant(s) financial situation changes (for the better, or for the worse) please contact the Family Services Coordinator immediately via email at or via phone at 978-681-8858 for financial reevaluation to ensure qualification for the program.

If Denied, Can I Reapply?

We encourage any and all denied applicants to take the steps to improve their eligibility as it was explained to them in their letter of non-qualification (see above: What if I Don’t Qualify?) and reapply during another application cycle. Applicant(s) must wait at least one (1) year to reapply if denied due to credit issues. All applicants, regardless of the reason for denial, will have to go through all the steps listed each time an application is submitted.

Waiting List

We DO NOT have a waiting list for homeownership. The application and build process will vary depending on the availability of properties.