Program Qualifications

Homeowner Eligibility Criteria

A non-profit homebuilder, Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario partners with low-income families, who cannot afford a conventional mortgage, to build and buy simple, decent quality, affordable homes through a no-interest, no-down payment mortgage. With monthly payments set at 25% of the total family income, the Habitat homeownership solution not only helps to provide affordable housing for families in need, it enables low-income families to build assets, reduce their dependence on other forms of social assistance and break the cycle of poverty.
 Families who will own a Habitat Heartland Ontario home are part of a complex selection 
process. We select eligible families based on three specific criteria:


Need for adequate housing

Habitat Heartland Ontario homeowners are selected, in large part, based on their level of need. Families will be considered for a Habitat home if their present housing is not adequate and if they are unable to afford adequate housing through other conventional means.

Factors for consideration:

  • Families must be able to show proof of stable income for a minimum of 2 years
  • Current living conditions are overcrowded, unsafe or unhealthy (e.g. inadequate structure, unsafe wiring, heating, water, poor sanitation, etc.)
  • Housing costs are too high (i.e. basic shelter costs are more than 25% of total family income)
  • Barriers exist for physically challenged family members
  • Each family member is either a Canadian Citizen or a permanent resident of Canada

Ability to pay

Habitat Heartland Ontario does not give homes away for free. Families must have a reliable source of income and demonstrate their ability to meet the obligations of homeownership plus any other debt obligations. All mortgages are fair market value and held by Habitat Heartland Ontario and have 0% interest and require no down-payment.

Factors for consideration:

  1. Total family income must not exceed the affordability income ranges identified for each new build project

*Habitat will determine the number of bedrooms required based on the age and gender of the children living in the home.

  1. Employment Insurance (EI) or Ontario Works (OW) are not acceptable sources of income
  2. Applicants will be asked to submit a current credit reference check that shows a good credit history as well as other required documentation from employers, landlords, banks and credit lenders to confirm reliability of income
  3. Applicants must be clear from collections for six or more months and can demonstrate that they are able to rebuild their credit and manage their budget
  4. Applicants must not have debt larger than 40% of the annual household income, including all household debt plus estimated monthly mortgage/taxes and property insurance
  5. Applicants who have filed for bankruptcy must be fully discharged for at least two years before applying to Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario. Applicants need to have demonstrated in those two years they are able to rebuild their credit
  6. An applicant must demonstrate a minimum of 2 years of steady income. Income of all household members over the age of 18 shall be included in total household income except:
    • GST Rebate
    • Ontario Works (OW) benefits
    • Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) temporary benefits
    • Employment Insurance (if parental leave, re-evaluate after re-employment)
    • Child Disability Benefit (CDB) benefits
    • Part-time income of a fulltime student
    • Overtime and bonuses which are unpredictable or a one-time event
  7. Self-employment Income – An applicant should demonstrate consistent, verifiable income over a 3 year period by providing balance sheets, income statements & evidence that all income taxes are paid
  8. Selection will not be based on future earnings

Willingness to Partner

Each family selected for homeownership with Habitat Heartland Ontario is called a ‘Partner Family’. Partner Families are considered our greatest Ambassadors and as such are asked to help us with a variety of initiatives that advance our mission.

Partnership requirements:

  • Be willing to help us publicly spread the word about Habitat and participate in media events when required
  • Be willing to learn about the responsibilities of homeownership by attending a variety of Homeowner Education workshops
  • 500 Volunteer Hours – Each Partner Family must participate in the construction of their own homes, at our ReStores as well as other Habitat and community activities. 500 volunteer hours are required prior to moving into the home. These hours represent the Partner Family’s physical and emotional involvement in their Habitat home and community

Volunteer Hours are designed to meet three goals:

Partnership — Volunteer Hours provide meaningful interaction between Partner Families, Habitat representatives and volunteers

Pride of Ownership — investing Volunteer Hours in their own home helps families begin the transition to ownership

Development of Skills and Knowledge — on the building site, Partner Families can gain an understanding of the construction of their homes and future home maintenance needs