Frequently Asked Questions
What is Habitat for Humanity?
Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) is a global non-profit housing organization working in local communities across all 50 states in the United States and in more than 70 countries around the world. Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Habitat works toward our vision by building strength, stability and self-reliance in partnership with people and families in need of a decent and affordable home.
Habitat for Humanity San Luis Obispo (HFHSLOCO or Habitat SLO County) has been an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International since 1997. We offer programs and services that seek to ensure the residents of San Luis Obispo County are safely and affordably housed.
Are Habitat for Humanity and HFHSLOCO the same organization?
Habitat for Humanity San Luis Obispo County (aka Habitat SLO or HFHSLOCO) is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), meaning it is an official subsidiary of the larger “parent” organization. Habitat SLO County is committed to serving the community of San Luis Obispo County, while HFHI oversees all affiliates across the globe. The programs and projects we pursue are specific responses to the needs, priorities, resources, and community of San Luis Obispo. When you support Habitat SLO County, you’re supporting your neighbors.
How does Habitat help families?
People in your community and all over the world partner with Habitat to build or improve a place they can call home. With the homeownership and building program, the partner families volunteer to help build their own homes alongside community volunteers, and then pay an affordable mortgage.
Other programs help families by providing affordable maintenance and repair services and managing neighborhood revitalization initiatives. We provide opportunities for donors, volunteers and supporters to work toward a common goal, developing strong ties and establishing the legacy of a safe, vibrant communities.
How many houses has Habitat built in San Luis Obispo County?
To date we have built 17 homes in San Luis Obispo County: Three homes in Paso Robles, one home in Cambria, four homes in Atascadero, four homes in Grover Beach, and five homes in San Luis Obispo. We have nine additional homes in development in Paso Robles and a future project in Arroyo Grande.
In addition to new construction, we’ve also completed numerous home preservation projects throughout the county. We manage two ongoing neighborhood revitalization coalitions: one in Paso Robles and one in Oceano. We’ve also completed numerous small-scale neighborhood revitalization projects over the years.
Does Habitat only build new houses?
No! Habitat for Humanity works in a number of different ways to create decent, affordable housing.
In addition to new construction, Habitat also renovates existing homes in many communities, particularly in urban areas. We people repair and improve their own homes and neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Revitalization initiative and it’s programs. Habitat for Humanity International manages a Disaster Response program that works with local communities to address a variety of housing needs after natural disasters. HFHI also engages in advocacy work to raise awareness and support for decent and affordable housing around the world. Outside of North America, Habitat works with partner organizations to serve even more families through innovative financing methods.
What is a Habitat for Humanity ReStore?
Habitat for Humanity ReStores are non-profit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Habitat for Humanity ReStores are owned and operated by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates, and proceeds are used to build strength, stability and self-reliance locally and around the world.
For more on donating to a San Luis Obispo ReStore, visit the Restores page on our website.
Where does Habitat for Humanity operate?
Habitat for Humanity works in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries around the world. Our operational headquarters are located in Americus, Georgia, and our administrative headquarters are in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Habitat SLO serves San Luis Obispo County. Not in San Luis Obispo County? Use this link to find the local affiliate that serves your community.
How does Habitat for Humanity work with the government?
Habitat asks legislators and housing regulators to increase support for affordable homeownership and decent housing.
Habitat monitors public policies related to housing, community and international development.
Habitat advocates for policies that will increase access to decent, affordable housing available to people around the world.
Habitat accepts government funds as long as they have no conditions that would violate our principles or limit our ability to proclaim our Christian identity.
Is Habitat for Humanity a governmental program founded by Jimmy Carter?
No. Habitat for Humanity is an independent, non-profit organization that accepts some government funds and other resources to help build houses in partnership with those in need of adequate shelter. Each affiliate has specific guidelines for their programs to limit reliance on government funding.
Former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn have been longtime supporters of Habitat for Humanity. Mrs. Carter grew up in Plains, Georgia, just eight miles from Americus, Georgia where Habitat was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976. Mr. and Mrs. Carter’s devotion to Habitat has brought world-wide attention to the organization and the need for affordable housing in America and around the world.
Is Habitat for Humanity a Christian organization?
Yes, we are a global non-profit Christian housing organization. All who desire to be a part of this work are welcome, regardless of religious preference or background. We have a policy of building with people in need regardless of race or religion. We welcome applicants, volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds.
I am in urgent need of affordable housing. What organizations can help me?
Habitat SLO County is not in the position to serve those in urgent or emergency need of affordable housing. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity on a building project can be a multi-year process and, while it is a rewarding experience and provides an opportunity for low-income residents to move into decent, affordable homes, it is not suited for those in an urgent or emergency housing situation.
There are other housing-support agencies in San Luis Obispo that may be able to help.
- 40 Prado Homeless Services Center
- ECHO El Camino Homeless Organization
- Five Cities Homeless Coalition
- Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA) Supportive Housing Programs
- SLO County Drug & Alcohol Services Residential Program
- Lumina Alliance (partner violence)
- Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) Supportive Housing Program
- Department of Social Services Referral for Housing Deposit or Evection Preventions
- SLO Solutions – Wilshire Creative Mediation
- People’s Self-Help Housing
- Housing Authority San Luis Obispo
- SLO Legal Assistance Foundation (SLOLAF)
How does Habitat for Humanity homeownership work?
Families in need of decent, affordable housing apply for homeownership with their local Habitat for Humanity.
Each local Habitat’s family selection committee selects homeowners based on three criteria:
- The applicant’s level of need,
- Their willingness to partner with Habitat,
- Their ability to repay a mortgage through an affordable payment plan,
Habitat’s homebuyers invest hundreds of hours of their own labor, called sweat equity, working alongside volunteers and other Habitat homeowners, in addition to paying an affordable mortgage and receiving financial education.
Habitat for Humanity follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection. Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing Habitat’s homeowners.
Does Habitat give homes away for free?
No. When a qualified applicant is selected to purchase a Habitat for Humanity home, they commit to repaying an affordable mortgage, and partnering with Habitat in several ways including the commitment to provide sweat equity volunteer hours toward the construction of their home.
How do I know if I qualify for a Habitat house or program?
When applications are being accepted by our affiliate or one of our programs, Habitat SLO will provide application and qualification information on this website. Our Apply page has a quick reference of current opportunities. Criteria for qualification may vary from year-to-year, and requirements may change depending on the program. Review the program application details for more information on qualifying for a Habitat home or other program.
How are the mortgages so affordable?
Habitat homes are built on the generosity of the community where they stand. Oftentimes, land, labor, materials, and services are donated to the project which helps to keep costs low. Because our selected homebuyers must meet certain income criteria, our programs are supplemented by government and other programs. Together, these factors help keep mortgage payments affordable.
Do Habitat homebuyers get to choose their own contractors, appliances, fixtures, etc.?
Habitat homes are humble, decent homes built with affordability in mind. We rely on the generosity of volunteer and donor support in every aspect of the building process. Habitat homebuyers are generally able to select certain elements and finishes in their home as part of the construction process. These details are described to the homebuyer during the application and construction process, and may vary by program.
How do I volunteer?
Volunteers for the San Luis Obispo affiliate must be 18 years or older. For more information regarding volunteering in San Luis Obispo, visit the volunteer page on our website.
Habitat for Humanity International offers many ways to get involved. Visit the HFHI volunteer page for more information about volunteering internationally, as a group, with a special event, or with another affiliate.
Does Habitat SLO County have volunteer opportunities all the time?
Yes! Our ReStores rely on volunteer support and there are shifts available year-round. When a build project is underway, you’ll be able to view and register for construction volunteer shifts as they become available.
Can I do construction volunteering on a build any time?
At this time, we do not have build projects running year-round and construction volunteer opportunities are limited. When a build is underway, you’ll be able to view and register for construction volunteer shifts as they become available.
What kind of donations do you accept?
Habitat depends on financial donations to fund our work and help families build a place they can call home. Donors can give cash one-time or monthly, or participate in other donation programs such as Cars for Homes or legacy giving. Read our donate page for more information.
Material donations provide inventory for our ReStores, locally managed home improvement stores which sell reusable and surplus building materials, furniture and appliances to the public. Review our ReStore Inventory for more information on acceptable donations.
Contractors, donors, businesses, and other organizations may become a Habitat SLO County Partner in support of a project, initiative, or of our affiliate. Partners may provide materials, pro-bono services, financial and volunteer support, or a customized sponsorship for our work.
Can I donate this item to your ReStore?
Our ReStores are equipped to accept clean, usable, safe donations of construction materials, furniture, appliances, fixtures, finishes, and more. Please review our ReStore Inventory page for more information on acceptable donations. Sometimes, even if an item is named on our acceptable donations list, we may not have room for the item in our store. It’s often a good idea to contact the store prior to bringing in your donation so you can be sure we will be able to accept it.
What are ReStore donation hours and why are they different from store hours?
To ensure we have enough time to process, prepare, price, and stock the donations we receive, we reserve dedicated donation hours in our ReStore locations, which differ from store or shopping hours. You can view our donation hours for each store on our Hours page.
Will you pick up my ReStore donation?
We offer limited donation pickup services with an approximately two-week lead time, subject to current inventory needs and staff availability. Please contact the ReStore directly for more information on this service.
We have partnered with ReSupply, to provide an alternative pickup option for our donors. For a small fee to the donor, ReSupply offers priority pickup services which includes retrieval, disassembly, and delivery of items to one of our ReStores. Donors are not required to use ReSupply to donate to one of our ReStores.
If I donate to Habitat International does my money stay in San Luis Obispo County?
You might receive marketing from Habitat for Humanity International if you’ve supported any Habitat affiliate in the past. Likewise, you may continue to receive marketing from another Habitat affiliate that you’ve supported in the past. While every donation to Habitat supports affordable housing across the globe, only donations that are designated for our affiliate or that are given directly to Habitat SLO County are returned to the community of San Luis Obispo County. If you’re concerned about keeping your donations in our community, be sure to donate directly to Habitat SLO County.
If you donate items to a Habitat SLO County ReStore, they will be sold in our local stores and the proceeds will be used to support our programs locally.
How are financial donations distributed and used?
Donors can designate a financial donation to be allocated in support of a U.S. affiliate, national organization or program of their choosing. For example, donors can donate directly to Habitat SLO County or designate our affiliate to receive the funds when donating to Habitat for Humanity International.
All undesignated gifts received by Habitat for Humanity International are invested through the Global Impact Fund where they can have the greatest impact. Habitat’s Global Impact Fund helps:
- Design and replicate innovative programs to serve more low-income families.
- Build the capacity of our network of U.S. affiliates and national organizations.
- Cover other costs necessary to ensure that Habitat fulfills its mission with excellence.
How are my donations to Habitat SLO County used? What other funding sources are used for your programs?
We receive funding from a multitude of sources including federal, state, and local government agencies. Local business and organization partnerships can provide funding and in-kind donations that help reduce our cost burden and support our programs. Proceeds from sales in the local ReStores, as well as donations from individual community members, grants, foundations and fundraising efforts are put directly toward our programs. Our corporate overhead is covered by other funding sources.