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Our Housing One Stop Shop - All Roads Lead Home

We at Habitat Seminole-Apopka are proudly growing into a full-service housing agency, a kind of housing one-stop-shop, to serve Seminole County and the Greater Apopka area of Orange County and beyond. Discover how our housing one stop shop turns all roads to lead home.


group of volunteers standing in front of a house under construction

 

A Full-Service Housing Counseling Agency

A full-service housing counseling agency typically provides a range of services and support to individuals and families related to housing matters. The goal of a full-service housing counseling agency is to empower individuals and families to make informed decisions about housing, improve their financial stability, and access resources to achieve and maintain housing stability. So, how did we begin this and how can this help you?  

 

Building Affordable Homes

Each year, we have built and sold a greater number of affordable homes than the previous year, forging a brighter, more affordable future for our neighbors. Much care, support and knowledge go into selecting and mentoring Future Homebuyers through the process, to include working with banks and other partners, building mortgage packages, leveraging resources, raising resources, educating homebuyers for success, supporting sweat equity hours, and constructing the homes. As you can see, a lot is involved.

 

A Commitment to Financial Literacy

All those who come to us without the financial know-how to buy a home or require help to move forward led us to an important realization. We needed to wrap our arms around Central Florida and help the community by providing tools for financial stability and literacy, whether people want to apply for a Habitat home or not.

 

With the help of local financial partners, since 2020 we have continued to provide a web-based Financial Academy several times per year and have even conducted several in-person sessions. We have also encouraged the students to participate in Thrivent’s online Money Coach counseling and have recently posted the Banzai Financial Tools resource on our website, thanks to One Florida Bank.

 

Additionally, Habitat Seminole-Apopka now offers one-on-one financial counseling during convenient hours with our very own onsite, HUD-certified Housing Counselor. This new service is for anyone and everyone in the community. Again, we are committed to helping those who want to become financially literate and understand how they can become a homeowner, through Habitat or another program in the community. How great is that?

 

12 Services/Resources for Everyone

Combining our Financial Academy workshops, the online resources, and one-on-one counseling, what are the common components in a housing one-stop-shop through which we can help Habitat homebuyers and the public in general? And how will we add to that in the future?

1.     Homeownership Counseling: Providing guidance and support to individuals and families interested in purchasing a home. This may include assistance with understanding mortgage options, budgeting, down payment assistance programs, and navigating the home buying process.

 

2.     Rental Assistance: People who come to us for assistance are typically renting or sharing a house or apartment, at times in very precarious circumstances. Our housing counselor is able to offer them assistance in finding affordable housing options for the meantime. That can help them get on the right financial track as they are walking the journey to home ownership.

 

3.     Financial Education and Counseling: For many, the dream of homeownership symbolizes stability and prosperity. However, achieving this dream often requires navigating a maze of financial considerations, legal complexities, and bureaucratic hurdles. We provide financial literacy workshops and one-on-one counseling sessions to help individuals and families improve their financial management skills, including budgeting, debt management, credit building, and savings strategies.

 

4.     Foreclosure Prevention: The specter of foreclosure casts a dark shadow over homeowners facing financial hardship, threatening not only their homes but also their financial stability and future prospects. If a Habitat homeowner contacts us because they are facing financial difficulties and foreclosure threats, we can assist by exploring options to prevent foreclosure, such as loan modification, refinancing, or other loss mitigation strategies.

 

5.     Fair Housing Advocacy: Despite legal protections, discrimination in housing remains a pervasive issue, denying individuals and families access to housing opportunities based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. We educate individuals about their fair housing rights and helping those who have experienced discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin.

 

6.     Community Development: We engage in initiatives aimed at improving neighborhoods and communities through affordable housing development, community revitalization, and advocacy for policies that promote equitable access to housing.

 

7.     Specialized Programs: We offer specialized services tailored to specific populations, such as seniors, veterans, individuals with disabilities, or survivors of domestic violence, to address their unique housing needs and challenges. We work consistently to improve housing parity in minority areas, such as Goldsboro and South Apopka.

 

8.     Pre-Purchase Counseling: We provide guidance for individuals looking to purchase a home, including information on mortgage options, down payment assistance programs, and understanding the home buying process.

 

9.     Community Resources and Referrals: We connect clients with other community resources and services, such as legal assistance and social services.

 

10.  Language and Cultural Support: Staff provides services in multiple languages and cultural competency to serve diverse communities effectively, such as ASL, Creole, French, and Spanish.

 

11.  Education and Workshops: Staff and partner institutions offer workshops, seminars, and educational materials on various housing-related topics to empower clients with knowledge and skills.

 

12.  Credit Counseling: Many individuals face barriers to homeownership due to poor credit history.  We offer credit counseling services to help individuals improve their credit scores and qualify for affordable mortgage rates.

 

13 Foundations Workshops for Habitat Future Homebuyers AND Current Homeowners

Those individuals and families who are selected as Habitat Future Homebuyers have access to all the above resources, of course. In addition, as part of their sweat equity requirement they MUST take 20 hours of mandatory classes, known as the Foundations Workshops, as they are foundational to becoming a successful homeowner. Current Habitat Homeowners are invited to retake any of these sessions, which are given twice per year:

 

1.     Home and Lawn Maintenance and Home Safety Part I: Homebuyers will learn all about the inner workings of a home and important things to take note of as a homeowner, such as circuit breakers, water valves, plumbing, A/C Maintenance.

 

2.     Home and Lawn Maintenance and Home Safety Part 2: Termite bond; maintaining your septic system; refrigerator maintenance, lawn maintenance.

 

3.     Wills, Probate and Life Insurance: Understand the importance of having a will and some issues that may arise when a homeowner does not have a will.

 

4.     Homeowner’s Insurance: Learn how to shop for homeowner’s insurance.

 

5.     Civic Engagement Part I: Why is civic engagement so important?

 

6.     Civic Engagement Part II: Learn the importance of voting and where and how to register to vote in your community.

 

7.     Mental Health - Stress and Anger Management: Identifying and Understanding Symptoms and triggers of stress and anger. How to better our anger (BRISC – Break, Re-evaluate, Identify, Solve and Communicate).

 

8.     Mental Health Coping with Sadness and Depression: Effective ways to cope with sadness and depression.

 

9.     Closing on Your Mortgage and Zero Equivalent and Predatory Lending: What is involved when closing on your mortgage and what is zero equivalent?

 

10.  Down Payment Assistance: Learn Down Payment minimum requirements and the application process.

 

11.  Nutrition – Healthy Cooking on a Budget: How to shop and cook healthy meals.  Eating Better on a Budget.

 

12.  Learn on your own: *Money Smart (online): Online financial literacy segment covering budgeting, savings, credit, etc.

 

13.  The 8-Hour HUD Approved First-Time Homebuyer Education Workshop (from approved HUD Organization)



Looking Toward our Future

In terms of adding to the list of classes and services in the future, we are excited to be in the process of applying to become a HUD-Certified Housing Agency (US Department of Housing and Urban Development). When that happens, we will be able to provide the 8-hour HUD-Approved First-Time Homebuyer Education Workshop ourselves and to provide even more education and housing services to the community.

 

As your Hometown Habitat, we are anxious to serve our community in even more ways than we do now as soon as we can. Please visit the Homebuyer Resources pages on our website for Financial Academy dates/times, Foundations Workshops, Banzai Financial Tools, and to make an appointment with our Housing Counselor. https://www.habitatseminoleapopka.org/homebuyer-resources

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