Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County Texas: Homeowner Survey Findings
Affordable housing is a pressing issue facing many Central Texas residents. In the last decade, the region’s population grew at a rate of 2.9% annually, or approximately 55,350 people per year. Seventy percent of this growth can be attributed to those moving into the Austin-Round Rock housing market area. While the rental market is currently balanced at a 6.3% vacancy rate, the sales market is exceedingly tight. The vacancy rate, or homes available for purchase, dropped from 2.3% in 2010 to 0.8% in 2018. Lower median home prices in the suburban regions north and south of Austin often draw people to these areas. As a result, Hays and Williamson County are some of the fastest growing counties in the nation – ranking at 2nd and 12th place respectively. This growth is projected to continue in the years to come. By 2050, Williamson County is estimated to be home to approximately one million people. As demand continues to outpace the new affordable housing units entering the market, it is expected that barriers to homeownership will persist for many in the region.
Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County, Texas (HFHWC) is a nonprofit, Christian ministry whose mission is to bring communities and people together to create and sustain homeownership in Williamson County. Their vision statement is a county where everyone has a decent place to live with hope and dignity. HFHWC supports its mission by providing a pathway to homeownership for families, providing homebuyer education, providing home repairs to sustain homeownership, supporting affordable home improvement through its ReStores, and by hosting several volunteer and fundraising events to connect with the community.
To better understand the impact of homeownership on its clients, HFHWC partnered with the Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing (TXICFW) survey its homeowners. This report outlines the development and findings of the survey, as well as important feedback from HFHWC homeowners on how the program impacted their families’ lives.
HFHWC’s homeownership program provides an affordable housing option for those who qualify. Qualification requirements are outlined in Table 1. The program offers potential homeowners the opportunity to purchase a home from HFWHC with a zero-percent interest mortgage that includes the homeowner’s income in calculating monthly payment (including principal, taxes, and property insurance). Potential homeowners are only required to pay $1,500 prior to purchasing the home which reduces the barrier of an upfront down payment required in a market loan. This payment is used for first-year homeowner insurance costs and closing costs.
A total of 76 homes have been built in Williamson County as a result of HFHWC’s work in partnership with local volunteers and donors. As of June 2019, there are 67 homeowners who own their home through HFHWC’s homeownership program.
HFHWC opens application for its homeownership program twice each year and accepts applicants into the program based on meeting program requirements as well as available land, construction funding, and volunteer labor.