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Introduction to Austin Habitat for Humanity

 Austin Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build strong, stable and self-reliant communities. Founded in 1985 by a small, committed group of volunteers, we completed our first home in 1987 and since have completed more than 420 homes in Central Texas. Austin Habitat was founded to serve the affordable housing needs of Central Texas, leading us to have a multi-faceted approach to serving the community. We build homes for hardworking, low-income families; repair homes for existing low-income homeowners; educate the community through our HUD-approved housing counseling program, and operate the nation’s first ReStore – a nonprofit home improvement store and recycling initiative that helps fund Habitat programs.

Did You Know:

  • All Habitat affiliates are independent nonprofits separate from HFHI, meaning all of your hardwork and support directly impacts the Austin community. HFHI provides support through, but each affiliate is responsible for its own operations and financial stability.
  • For every home we build in Austin, we donate a tithe to support international affiliates to continue the global Habitat mission.
  • HUD fair market rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in Austin is $1,233 per month.
  • Austin Habitat homeowner payments average about $500 per month, which includes taxes and insurance.
  • The National Housing Conference’s Paycheck to Paycheck report asserts that the annual income needed for the Austin homeownership market is $75,966.
  • According to the 2014 City of Austin Housing Market Study, 53% of low-income homeowners and 69% of low-income renters expend more than 30% of their income on housing. 28% of all homeowners cannot afford to pay their property taxes.
  • Research from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies show children of homeowners are 35% less likely to receive welfare, 25% more like to graduate from high school, and 116% more likely to graduate from college than in renting families.

 

How OUr program works

We offer low-income families and hand up, not a hand out. Austin Habitat for Humanity gives families an opportunity to use homeownership as a foundation for a stable life. We follow a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection. Neither race nor religion is a factor in choosing partner families. Partner families must:

  • Live in substandard housing: This is defined as housing that is overcrowded, has structural or safety problems, is in an unsafe neighborhood, lacks access to services, and/or provides unstable living arrangements.
  • Have the ability to pay: Homeowners actually buy their homes, so they must be able to contribute monthly towards an affordable mortgage that does not exceed 30% of their monthly income, show proof of stable income, have good credit and not have too much debt.
  • Have a willingness to partner with Austin Habitat: The family must complete 300 hours of “sweat equity” which includes working on their home and the homes of other Austin Habitat families or in the ReStore. When 150 hours are complete, they can select a lot from our current land inventory.

When the home and the partner family’s sweat equity hours are complete, we sell the home at an affordable sales price, with monthly mortgage payments structured to be less than 30% of their monthly household income.

Austin Habitat relies on the support of the community to operate all programs. Support comes from individuals, congregations, civic groups, companies, government and corporate grants, and foundations. Monthly homeowner payments are placed in the “fund for humanity” to help build homes for future families. Additionally, the ReStore makes up about 1/3 of our total income.

 

On Site with Austin Habitat

On your project day, please arrive by 7:45 AM, dressed appropriately, prepared for the weather, and ready to work! Our work days run from 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shifts, early departures and late arrivals break the momentum of a project so we ask all our volunteers to commit to a full work day.

Work site locations, workdays and assignments are subject to change due to the unpredictable nature of volunteer construction work. Your patience and cooperation is appreciated so that we can ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for all. 

 

Volunteers under the age of 18 must have a waiver of liability that has been signed by their parent or legal guardian.

Volunteers are asked to park one block away from the construction site they have been assigned to. Please use a good neighbor policy and do not park in front of anyone’s mail box.

What to wear: Closed toed-shoes or boots are required. Clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty are strongly encouraged. Light colored, cotton clothing and a hat are recommended for summer. Layered clothing is recommended for the winter. Jewelry is not allowed, because it can get lost or damaged very easily.

What to bring: A plastic drink cup or reusable water bottle is required. We also ask that volunteers bring their own snack or lunch. Volunteers are asked to bring their own lunch or pick up food, during the scheduled lunch break, to eat on site. We strongly encourage all volunteers to eat their lunch on site in order to keep the project momentum going. If you are with a group, check with your team leader to see if lunch is being catered. Finally, do not bring a bag, pets, or children. No smoking, drugs, or alcohol are permitted on the work site.

 

Our Team

 During your volunteer day, a site lead from our staff will be responsible for the construction site. You will also work with our volunteer services team to coordinate your day and check-in. Finally, you will also work with some of our regular volunteers that work with us on a regular basis and assist with specific tasks.

Volunteer Day Schedule

 

7:45 a.m. – Arrive on site to check-in

8:00 a.m. – Your volunteer day begins! The site lead will orient you to an Austin Habitat construction site and review safety procedures. From there, you’ll be split into groups to accomplish various tasks.

11:30 a.m. – Break for lunch

3:30 p.m. – Begin site clean up

4:00 p.m. – End of volunteer day

Construction Site Saftey

 Safety is everyone’s responsibility and concern on a job site. Please remember to be conscious of your safety and the safety of others throughout your volunteer day. Site supervisors will instruct each volunteer about the correct and proper procedures to follow while on site and while handling construction equipment.

First aid kits are available on the construction site.   Site hosts and site leads are familiar with safety and first aid procedures in case of emergency. 

Proper Safety Equipment 

  • Hard hats are to be worn when any overhead work is in progress or when instructed by a supervisor.
  • A worker must wear protective glasses any time he or she is operating power tools or when instructed by a supervisor.
  • Ear plugs must be worn when using a power tool for a prolonged period of time or when instructed by a supervisor. 

Power Tools and Other Electrical Equipment

Never lower or carry a power tool by its cord. Check power tools for defective switches, cords, plugs and proper grounding. Do not use defective power tools; these should be reported to a supervisor immediately. If you feel uncomfortable using a power tool or do not know how to use it properly please ask for help.


Hand Tools

Always select the correct type and size of tool for your work and be sure it is sharp and properly adjusted. Guard against using any tool if the handle is loose or if it is in poor condition. Dull tools are hazardous to use because excessive force must be used to make them work and may cause an injury. When you are using tools; hold them correctly. Be careful where you set your tools down. Never leave a tool on a ladder, because it might fall on someone's head. If you have questions about the use or condition of a tool please ask for help.


Saw Safety

  • Don't bind the blade of any saw. Always have one end of the piece you are cutting free to fall. If a saw blade binds, the saw will kick back towards the operator.
  • Keep the blade guards working. A spring activated blade guard can often become bent and won't slide quickly. Never lay the guard back out of the way or use a saw without a guard.
  • Support what you are working on properly. Never attempt to cut something that could slip or fall and cause the saw to slip. 

Ladder Safety

  • An extension ladder should reach 3 feet above the work level. Move your ladder with the work. If while you are working both of your shoulders are extended outside the ladder, you are reaching too far. For every four feet of height, move the bottom of the ladder one foot away from the wall.
  • Place your ladder on solid footing. Never use an aluminum ladder in the vicinity of the electrical lines and never use a ladder outdoors during inclement weather or on a windy day. 

Clean Work Site

Clean up all rubbish and scrap materials on a daily basis. Do not permit blocks of wood, nails, boxes, empty cans, pipe, wire or other material to accumulate on the work site. Never leave a worksite unguarded unless all tools and materials have been properly secured. To protect tools not being used, place them in chests or tool boxes.

If you see a situation that is unsafe either take care of it yourself or tell a supervisor immediately.

 

Emergency Medical Care

If someone is injured on the job, immediately contact your supervisor and summons any necessary medical help. You could also use the supplies located in the first aid kit to stabilize the injury as much as possible until medical help arrives. The sign-in book contains hospital maps and accident forms which MUST be completed if medical treatment is necessary.

 

Have a question that isn't answered here? Please check out our frequently asked questions page If your question isn't there, please reach out to our  volunteer services team

Thank you for helping us to build strong, stable and self-reliant communities. Together, we can build a better Austin.