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Not long ago, a household income of $100,000 would have been plenty to afford a mortgage. But these days, $100,000 is considered insufficient for homeownership in cities like Toronto. In fact, it’s become so expensive to own a home in Toronto that families earning $100,000 or less can be eligible for a home through Habitat For Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity helps make homeownership more accessible and affordable for families. The organization brings communities together to build homes for families in financial need. 

Let’s go into more detail about Habitat For Housing and the eligibility criteria you must meet to get approved for its homeownership program.

How Is Habitat For Humanity Making Homes Affordable?

Habitat For Humanity is working to improve housing affordability for low-income families in several ways, including the following:

  • No down payment required
  • Manageable mortgage payments (payments are no more than 30% of your gross income. Includes property taxes)
  • Personal finance and homeownership training and workshops 

Are You Eligible For The Habitat For Humanity Housing?

The eligibility criteria to become a homeowner through Habitat For Humanity varies depending on where you are. You’ll need to speak with a representative to find out exactly what the qualifications are in your area. That said, some criteria are generally the same no matter where you live:

You Must Be Willing To Become A Partner 

Habitat For Humanity believes in giving back just as much as you are given. If you’re provided with affordable housing through Habitat For Humanity, you must agree to partner with the organization and volunteer at least 500 hours of your time to help build your home or work in a Habitat ReStore. You may also need to participate in classes in personal finances and home maintenance.

You Must Be In Need Of Housing

Perhaps you are unable to afford your rent or are currently living in a home that is unsafe, poorly maintained, or overcrowded. Or, maybe you have a disability or other issues and need a home that provides accessibility features to make it easier for you to get around. Situations like these would classify you as someone who is legitimately in need of housing help.   

You Must Be Able To Afford The Mortgage

Homes through Habitat For Humanity aren’t free: you’ll still need to buy your home at its fair market value. As such, you will need to make mortgage payments, so you must be able to afford your payments. That said, mortgage payments on homes through Habitat For Humanity are more manageable because they take up no more than 30% of your gross income, which ensures that you have money left over for other expenses.

Eligibility Requirements For Habitat For Humanity In Quebec

Habitat For Humanity in Quebec partners with the local community and eligible families to build homes, then sells them at no profit with zero-interest mortgages to qualified families.

Eligibility Requirements 

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent residence for at least two years (including all household occupants)
  • Not be a homeowner
  • Have at least one dependent child
  • Have a household income of at least $50,000 
  • Be in need of affordable housing
  • Be able to pay a mortgage
  • Be willing to volunteer with Habitat For Humanity

Mortgage Details

No down payment is needed, and partnering families can take advantage of at least 70% in savings on interest on home loans. Homeowners repay their mortgages every year up to 30% of their gross annual income. 

Eligibility Requirements For Habitat For Humanity In Toronto (GTA)

Habitat for Humanity GTA is similar to branches in other Canadian cities and provinces. The goal is to make homeownership more affordable and accessible while helping lower-income families effectively manage their personal finances and debts. The GTA arm of the organization is focused more on building units in townhouse complexes and condo buildings in the city. 

Eligibility Requirements For Habitat For Humanity In Toronto (GTA)

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (including all household occupants) 
  • Have at least one dependent child 16 or under
  • Be employed full-time or full-time-equivalent (ie. have multiple part-time jobs)
  • Have a minimum of three years of employment history in Canada
  • Not be a homeowner 
  • Currently live in rental housing
  • Unable to afford to buy a home through conventional means
  • Have no recent bankruptcies or consumer proposals 

Mortgage Details  For Habitat For Humanity In Toronto (GTA)

You must have a stable income from traditional employment to be able to manage your mortgage payments. You must also display an ability to effectively manage your debt.  

No down payment is necessary. Your first mortgage is secured with a traditional lender and charged the current market interest rate. The difference between the purchase price of the property and the first mortgage is covered by a second mortgage provided by Habitat GTA. 

No payments are made on the second mortgage until the first mortgage is repaid.

Volunteer Work  For Habitat For Humanity In Toronto (GTA)

If you are approved for a home through Habitat For Humanity, you must agree to partner with the organization by volunteering 500 hours of your time toward building homes or working on their initiatives. You must also attend homeowner training and workshops and participate in Habitat GTA’s Social Impact Study.

Do You Need Good Credit For Habitat For Humanity In Toronto (GTA)?

You must have at least a fair credit score on an Equifax credit report

How Does It Work?

To take advantage of Habitat For Humanity’s homeownership assistance, follow these steps:

Step 1: Fill Out The Eligibility Questionnaire

Start your application by completing Habitat For Humanity’s eligibility form. Make sure all information provided is accurate. Any dishonesty will disqualify you and prohibit you from re-applying for one year.

Step 2: Watch The Information Session

Once you’ve met the requirements for the program, you’ll be asked to watch an online information session that covers important details about Habitat For Humanity’s homeownership program and the mortgage model. It’s important that you fully understand how the program works and how it differs from conventional homeownership. 

Step 3: Complete And Submit The Application Form

Gather all required documents to support your application and submit them along with your application. Again, all documents must be accurate and honest; otherwise, you’ll be at risk of disqualification. 

Step 4: Wait For A Response

Once your application is received, you’ll be notified via email. The Habitat For Humanity team will thoroughly review your application to ensure its accuracy and your eligibility for the program. This review process could take anywhere from one to three months, after which you will receive a response about your qualification for the homeownership program.

Alternate Mortgage Options If You Do Not Qualify For Habitat For Humanity

If you’re not eligible for Habitat For Humanity’s Homeownership program, there may be other options available to you.

However, it’s important to understand that even though your credit score plays a role in your ability to secure a mortgage, it’s not the only factor considered. Many Canadians with bad credit can still qualify for a mortgage under normal circumstances, but it’s today’s skyrocketing housing prices and mortgage interest rates that are keeping many Canadians from homeownership.

Right now, the minimum credit score required to get approved for a mortgage in Canada is 640, though anywhere from 620 and 680 can be considered a minimum, depending on the lender.

Ultimately, a good credit score is helpful, but your debt utilization ratio and credit history both play a role in your ability to get approved for a home loan. Even if you earn a healthy income, carrying lots of debt can compromise your ability to get a mortgage. Lenders will weigh your income and credit score against your debt load to determine your debt utilization ratio and creditworthiness.

Before you apply for a mortgage, be sure to check your credit score, which you can do for free by using Loans Canada’s CompareHub tool.

Options For Getting A Mortgage In Canada 

Consider these options to help you get a home loan:

First Home Savings Account (FHSA)

An FHSA is a government-registered plan that lets homebuyers save up for their first home tax-free, up to a certain limit. Essentially, you can use this program to save for a down payment tax-free. The bigger the down payment, the less you’ll have to qualify for and ultimately borrow.

CMHC Insurance

If you can’t come up with a large down payment, you can still qualify for a mortgage with CMHC mortgage loan insurance. This insurance policy lets you secure a mortgage for up to 95% of the purchase price of a home. 

Alternative Online Lenders

You may have better luck getting approved for a mortgage by using the services of alternative online lending platforms. Companies like nesto make use of cutting-edge digital technology to provide convenient and accessible mortgages to homebuyers in Canada with the lowest mortgage interest rates available. 

Cash Value Life Insurance Policies

Some whole life insurance policies offer cash value, which is money that accrues in your policy with every premium payment you make. You can then use this source to put toward a down payment on a home purchase.

Co-Signed Mortgage

If you can’t qualify for a mortgage on your own, you can add a co-signer to the mortgage contract to help increase your chances of approval. A co-signer is someone with good credit and healthy finances who promises to take over mortgage payments if you fail to make payments on your own. 

Final Thoughts

If getting a mortgage the traditional way is out of reach for you financially, but your income is still adequate enough to make mortgage payments, you may qualify for the Habitat For Humanity homeownership program. With home prices and mortgage rates rising faster than wages, utilizing a service like Habitat For Humanity can help you achieve homeownership when conventional methods don’t work for you. 

[“faq title=”FAQs On Habitat For Humanity”]

@question

How does Habitat For Humanity keep its mortgages affordable?

@answer

Habitat For Humanity uses a shared equity model that reduces the cost of homeownership by sharing the equity in the home with homeowners. Families can get an affordable mortgage that’s based on their income. Then, Habitat For Humanity provides an additional home loan to make up for the difference between the purchase price of the home and the first mortgage.

@question

Where does Habitat For Humanity build homes in Canada?

@answer

Habitat For Humanity builds homes in all provinces and territories in Canada.

@question

What is a Habitat For Humanity ReStore?

@answer

Habitat ReStore is a retailer that accepts donations, including furniture, appliances, home decor, and building materials. The retailer then resells the donated items, and all profits go toward funding Habitat For Humanity projects. 

@question

What other mortgage options are available if you don’t qualify for Habitat For Humanity?

@answer

If you’re not eligible for Habitat For Humanity, you may consider bad credit loans from an alternative online lender, adding a co-signer to your mortgage, or using the funds from your RRSP or permanent life insurance policy for a down payment. 

@question

Does Habitat For Humanity only give mortgages to people in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto?

@answer

Habitat For Humanity provides mortgages for all eligible Canadians all over Canada. 

[/faq]

Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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