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Homeowner Education

Fox Cities Habitat is a nonprofit committed to building the quality of life, health and prosperity of the greater Fox Cities area through the production and preservation of homeownership – because homes and families are the foundation of successful communities.

About

As a part of Habitat for Humanity’s sweat equity component, each partner family completes several required homeowner education classes.  These classes are designed to prepare families for financial responsibilities of becoming homeowners, how to best maintain their homes and acclimate into their new neighborhoods.  Habitat’s overall goal is to empower families to become knowledgeable and successful homeowners.

Classes and workshop are taught by Habitat staff and volunteer facilitators.  Please Note:  Total class time may vary depending on language needs and providing interpreters

Education Checklist

Schedule/Descriptions

New Family Orientation

When offered: 2-4 weeks after approval (2-3 times per year)
Class time: 1.5 hours
Description: The New Family Orientation brings each new partner family through the Habitat doors with a tour of the building and a brief introduction to all staff.  The New Family Acceptance Letter is read aloud and discussed paragraph by paragraph and then signed by the partner families.  Material covered more in depth in this class is: the Habitat mortgage structure, pre-closing escrow account and the monthly payment policy. 

Willingness to Partner

When offered: 2-3 weeks after New Family Orientation (2-3 times per year)
Class time: 1.5 hours
Description: This class captures one of the three criterion families agree upon when they are approved as future Habitat homebuyers: their willingness to partner.  The material covered in this class is the history and mission of Habitat, sweat equity policy and descriptions and how to schedule volunteer hours on the worksite. 

PR 101

When offered: 2-4 weeks after New Family Orientation (2-3 times per year)
Class time: 1 hour
Description:  This class covers the publicity release form we ask all families to sign. We also cover the importance of media relations to Habitat for Humanity and how to handle and respond to media about your Habitat home and experience.

Construction Basics 101

When offered: 2-6 weeks after approval (2-3 times per year)
Class time: 4 hours
Description:  This course is designed for homeowners who have not yet been on the work site as they prepare to begin working on “others’ Habitat homes.”   The goal is to give homeowners an idea of how a typical day on the site works (daily schedule), who does what (describe the various volunteer and staff roles) and the beginning to end and sequence of a complete build.  Participants will also learn about many commonly used hand tools and power tools, how to identify them, their purpose as well as putting them to use safely and effectively at hands-on workstations. 

Mortgage I 

When offered: 2-3 weeks after Floor Plan & Construction Basics 101 (2-3 times per year)
Class time: 2 hours
Description: The Habitat mortgage structure differs greatly from a conventional mortgage.  This course walks families step-by-step through the following topics: how to calculate and estimate future mortgage payment, how the second, silent mortgage works, how property taxes and homeowner insurance affect monthly mortgage payments and how the mortgage term is calculated.  Partner families compare their current housing expenses to anticipated expenses once they purchase their new home.

Financial Peace University/ Paz Financiera

When offered: Spring and fall of each calendar year
Class time: 18+ hours total; 5-6 one-on-one meetings with FPU Coach, 10 hours instruction time and homework time
Description:  Key components covered in this financial course are: expense tracking, budgeting, debt management/pay off, saving and creating an emergency fund and becoming insurance savvy.  Our facilitators of this course are referred to as FPU Coaches and offer one-on-one mentoring with each family at least two times.  The first meeting is at the beginning of FPU and the second is after the course is complete to follow up with progress and whether families’ goals are being met. 

Health & Home Safety Workshop

When offered: During the winter off-season of construction (once per calendar year)
Class time: 4 hours
Description:  This Saturday morning workshop is held at the Appleton YMCA.  The goal of this workshop is to expose families to different topics regarding safety in the home and physical health and wellbeing of adults and children in the family.  There is a children’s track that happens simultaneously in a different part of the building.  Some topics that are covered by guest speakers from local agencies are: fire and disaster preparedness, food safety, dental hygiene and physical and emotional wellness.  Families are also given a tour of the YMCA and a free pass for a future visit.

Good Neighbor

When offered: During the winter off-season of construction (once per calendar year)
Class time: 2.5 hours
Description:  This course discusses the transition of renting apartments to owning a home and being a permanent part of a neighborhood.  Topics covered are: expectations of being a good neighbor, how to handle neighbor conflict, and doing group activities on how to handle potential problems like: the doggy dilemma, party poopers, grass grievance, grumpy neighbor.

Green Living

When offered: During the winter off-season of construction (once per calendar year)
Class time: 1.5 hours
Description:  Green Living is an informative class on how families’ lifestyles and decisions impact our environment.  Some of the topics covered are: recycling, tips on how to save on home energy costs and the importance of furnace and appliance maintenance.

Home Maintenance

When offered: Summer and fall each calendar year (build year is divided in two parts so the information is given closer to the actual time of purchase for each group)
Class time: 2 hours
Description:  Home maintenance is a vital part of becoming a homeowner.  Instead of calling a landlord or property manager, homeowners are responsible for all the maintenance and replacement of anything worn or broken in their homes.  This class discusses the maintenance of home systems, maximizing their performance and life and replacement costs of appliances and systems in the home (water heater, furnace, refrigerator, etc.).   There is also a hands-on element for each homeowner to work with a programmable thermostat, electrical box, water heater, small power tools, etc.

Landscaping

When offered: Summer and fall each calendar year (build year is divided in two parts so the information is given closer to the actual time of purchase for each group)
Class time: 3-4 hours
Description:  Landscaping and seasonal exterior maintenance help add value to every Habitat home.  The goal of this class is to increase the homeowners’ knowledge of how to bring in their new lawn and to understand how to use the necessary landscaping tools.  Habitat offers each family free lawn care service from Back Yard Organics and assistance from Master Gardener volunteers.  A guided tour of a local hardware store and visiting current Habitat homeowners’ homes to view their lawns as examples are also part of this course.     

Mortgage II

When offered: Summer and fall each calendar year (build year is divided in two parts so the information is given closer to the actual time of purchase for each group)
Class time: 2 hours
Description:  This course is designed to bring families through the house closing and purchasing process.  All closing documents and terminology are explained at length along with discussing predatory lending schemes and how to avoid them. 

Moving & Dedication

When offered: Summer and fall each calendar year (build year is divided in two parts so the information is given closer to the actual time of purchase for each group)
Class time: 1 hour
Description:  The purpose of this class is to help families plan for the moving process (change mailing address, utilities, communication with landlords, etc.).  Each family also plans the details of their Habitat dedication ceremony and is taken through the forms needed by volunteer services to finalize the specifics for this special day.