Habitat Homeownership

Habitat McHenry County strives to make homeownership affordable for more families. We provide a hand up, not a hand-out. Meaning we’re in active partnership with homebuyers in our program to build and purchase an affordable home.

Habitat for Humanity Homeownership Program

Habitat for Humanity is a home ownership program empowering families to build a new life for themselves through the stability and security of owning their own home. Habitat homes are not given away but are sold to families who qualify and are willing to make a down payment, put in sweat equity labor, and can make a monthly mortgage payment. Habitat homes are affordable because Habitat does not make a profit on construction, the families pay an affordable mortgage and the homes are built with volunteers. 


Open Applications for a home rehab in Crystal Lake – 2-bedroom, 1 bathroom

Click below to add your contact information and be notified when our next application cycle opens!

Homeownership Program Eligibility Criteria

In order to qualify for our program, applicants must be able to, at minimum, afford 50 percent of the appraised value of a Habitat home.* We’ve determined this income sets future homeowners up for success with a solid financial foundation and less vulnerability to financial challenges, including rising cost of living. This can contribute to long-term stability and successful homeownership. 

*Habitat homes are appraised by a independent appraiser at fair market value. In 2023, three bedroom, one bath homes appraised at approximately $240,000.

Habitat’s eligibility is based on consideration of the following criteria:

1.Need for Housing 

  • Cost-burdened housing; paying more than 30% of gross monthly income on rent.
  • Overcrowded: Size is inadequate for the present or anticipated residents.
  • Unsafe, unsanitary living conditions or located in a particularly unsafe area.
  • Gross household income below 80% of the area median income (AMI) for McHenry County.
Income Guidelines 2024

2. Willingness to Partner with Habitat

  • Submit all requested documentation and/or information in a timely manner.
  • Complete pre-purchase financial education.
  • Schedule and complete a minimum of 250 sweat equity volunteer hours.
  • Attend all financial classes and check in meetings.
  • Display open and truthful communication with Habitat.

3. Ability to Pay an Affordable Mortgage

  • Stable and consistent source of income.
    • Income can come from various sources, including employment, government assistance, pensions or other sources if it is verifiable, reliable and expected to continue for three (3) years. 
    • At least one year of stable employment.
  • Satisfactory credit history with FICO score over 640 by time of closing.
  • Qualify and obtain a qualifying mortgage no more than 30% of gross income through a third-party lender.
  • Able to save a minimum of $3,000 to cover a percentage of closing costs.
  • No outstanding collections, liens or judgments.
  • Bankruptcy – minimum of two years since discharge, with good payment history.
  • Monthly debt payments no more than 13% of gross monthly income.
    • Calculation = Monthly debts/Gross monthly income (pretax.) Debt to consider: credit cards, car loans, student loans, child support, alimony, etc.  Does not include monthly utility payments.
  • Applicant(s) must be U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident.


No, Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County is not a giveaway program. Qualified Habitat McHenry homeowners purchase their homes with an affordable Habitat first-time homebuyer mortgage through a third party bank, invest at least 250 volunteer hours on site building their home, in our ReStores and enroll in homeownership preparation and financial courses. 

Volunteer labor, home sponsors and tax-deductible material and monetary donations from organizations and individuals help offset construction costs. Habitat McHenry County also leverages down payment assistance programs with our mortgage structures to provide an affordable mortgage product to income-qualified homebuyers.

Habitat first-time homebuyer mortgages are set to no more than 30% of the applicants gross income at the time of purchase. This include principal, interest, taxes and insurance, (PITI.)

In determining ability to repay an affordable mortgage, applicants must be able to afford 50 percent of the appraised value of a home currently in our build plan. (Applicants are those who will be included on the mortgage to the home.)

We’ve determined this income sets future homeowners up for success in affording the full market value of the homes Habitat McHenry builds, and protects them from rising property taxes and cost of living.

Habitat considers the whole picture of an applicant and look for those who are ready to accept the responsibility of homeownership. At the same time, we do not want to sell an applicant a home they cannot afford.

Average monthly payments typically range from $1,100 – $1,500, including PITI.

Sweat equity is work the future Habitat homeowner does, helping to build their home as well as the homes of other future homeowners.

It is a central principle in Habitat’s mission of building community and partnering with families to provide a “hand up, NOT a handout.”  Sweat equity contributes to three fundamental goals in the homeownership program: 

  • Partnership: The mission of Habitat McHenry County is to assist homebuyers in the construction of their own home. Sweat equity provides meaningful interaction between homebuyers, Habitat volunteers and staff, community members and future neighbors.
  • Pride in Ownership: As families work on their own homes, they begin to develop a sense of pride and attachment. Habitat homebuyers invest not only their money, but also time and energy into their homes, and witness the work of others on their behalf.
  • Development of skills and knowledge: On the building site, homebuyers gain an understanding of the construction of their home and maintenance issues they will face during homeownership.


Friends and family may help a Habitat homebuyer by volunteering with Habitat and donating their hours towards fulfilling a portion of their sweat equity requirements.

If you would like to volunteer visit www.volunteerhabitatmchenry.org.

The process of homeownership begins by submitting an application during an open application cycle. Habitat staff are available to meet with interested applicants to discuss the process in depth.

If we are not accepting applications, please add your name and contact information to our Interest List and check back later. We will post on the website as soon as an open application cycle is scheduled.

Typically, Habitat homebuyers close and move into their homes about 12-18 months after their initial application is submitted. Because our program relies on sponsors to fund houses and community volunteers to help construct them, this timeframe is an estimate. This timeframe allows applicants to plan for their move, complete the sweat equity hours required by our program, (a minimum of 250,) and participate fully in the construction of their homes.

Once an applicant has completed a full application with required documents, those who meet initial ability to repay criteria will schedule a pre-purchase counseling appointment with Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northern IL, (CCCS.) (Those not selected to move forward will receive notice within 30 days of returning their complete, full application.) This appointment will review the applicants income documentation; looking for sufficient, stable income to ensure they are ready for the financial responsibility of homeownership, and credit history; including outstanding collections, excessive debts, recent bankruptcy and any unpaid judgments or liens that would inhibit an applicant from obtaining a mortgage loan. 

Once CCCS sessions are completed, the Homeowner Selection Committee reviews results and makes approval selections based on the program criteria. Applicants are notified within 30 days of their CCCS appointment.

Approved applicants will receive their Partnership Agreement and approval via mail and schedule an appointment to accept and sign as a Habitat homebuyer!

Yes, all applicants need to have residency status in the United States before applying for Habitat McHenry’s homeownership program.

  • Completed homeowner application with signatures from all applicants
  • Driver’s license or state-issued photo ID
  • Copy of current rental agreement or lease
  • Employer name and contact info (if applicable)
  • Income documentation, including (if applicable): W-2 forms for most recent tax year, tax return for most recent tax year, paycheck stubs for past two months
  • Social Security and/or Disability benefits (if applicable)
  • Documentation of alimony and/or child support (if applicable)
  • Documentation of any other regular income received (if applicable) 

This is not an exhaustive list. Additional documents may apply. 

An applicant’s whole credit history is taken into account when applying.  The mortgage will be obtained through a bank and a minimum score of 620 is required to obtain a mortgage. 

Maintaining good credit, (pay your bills on time and you do not have excessive debt,) is one of the most important things you can do for your financial health.

Monitor your credit report/history for negative items by requesting a annual free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com.  

Applicants with current or recent bankruptcies, foreclosures or judgments will need to wait a minimum of two years after discharge before being eligible for consideration.

No. Habitat for Humanity is a Fair Housing agency, which means we do not discriminate based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, familial status, ancestry, unfavorable military discharge, marital status, receipt of government assistance or handicap. 

Individuals, couples, single parents with children, couples with children, etc. may apply to our homeownership program.

No. Habitat cannot discriminate for any reason. In compliance with ADA guidelines, Habitat McHenry County will work with individuals to establish reasonable accommodations for completing sweat equity requirements. 

Habitat McHenry provides down payment assistance, alleviating the need for mortgage insurance required for those who do not provide a 20% down payment with a conventional loan   

Habitat homebuyers are responsible for approximately $3,000 in closing costs, which includes the first year’s homeowners insurance and a portion of closing costs. 

Yes, a denial is only for that application cycle. Applicants are eligible to apply at any future application cycle.

Your denial letter will provide any specifics on criteria not met and we encourage applicants to utilize resources to improve their financial situation. If you need assistance finding community resources, our Homeowner Services staff can refer you to tools and resources available to help your situation.

Habitat McHenry County has homeowners who successfully reapplied after improving their situation and are now living in their Habitat homes. 

Habitat McHenry acquires land either through purchase or donation so we have limited areas where we build.  Open application cycles are specific to the location in McHenry County where we will be building homes. 

Our program is for first-time homebuyers, anyone who has not owned a home in at least three years, or ever. If you own land in McHenry County, our construction team will need to evaluate if a home may be constructed upon it. More importantly, you will need to apply to, and be approved for, our homeownership program. Only after our homeownership program criteria is met will we look at this possibility.

Habitat ReStores are independently owned reuse stores operated by local Habitat for Humanity organizations. ReStores accept donations and sell a constantly changing inventory of diverse, high-quality merchandise to the public at a fraction of the retail price, while diverting reusable household items and building materials from area landfills.

Sales of donated items help Habitat for Humanity partner with local families to build, rehabilitate and repair safe and affordable homes in your community and around the world — a good deal for you, your community and the environment. Together, we can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build a better future while creating stronger neighborhoods.

Habitat McHenry County ReStores operate in Woodstock and McHenry. Visit our ReStore webpage for more information.

Your Habitat home must be owner-occupied and cannot be rented out. If you choose to sell your home during the life of the loan, Habitat McHenry has a “first right of refusal,” and must be offered the opportunity to purchase the home.  If Habitat McHenry declines purchasing the home, it can be sold on the open market, but must be to a homebuyer who falls within the program guidelines to maintain affordable housing in McHenry County.

After a homeowner has fully paid off the mortgage, these restrictions are removed.

Habitat for Humanity is not an immediate solution and does not provide emergency assistance. 

If you are in need of immediate housing assistance dial 2-1-1 to be directed to resources in McHenry County that provide emergency or rental assistance.