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Celebrating National Homeownership Month: The Critical Role of Homebuyer Education in Habitat for Humanity's Mission

Three individuals holding up keys

June is National Homeownership Month! This month is not just a time to celebrate the joys and privileges of owning a home but also to acknowledge the challenges and responsibilities that come with it. As a leading force in the quest for affordable housing, Habitat for Humanity International recently released an evidence brief on the impact of homebuyer education and counseling (HEC) on homeownership outcomes. Here in Chester County, the education of our homebuyers is one of the unique aspects of owning a Habitat home. Our program is built to equip our homeowners with the essentials for successful homeownership: budgeting, saving, credit scores, first-time home buying, and more. 

Homebuyer education, financial counseling, and financial literacy are interconnected components of informed decision-making in homeownership. 

Financial Counseling

Financial counseling, offered alongside homebuyer education, addresses the personal financial situations of prospective homeowners. It includes personalized sessions on debt management, budgeting, and equipping individuals with the tools they need to make informed financial decisions. This holistic approach ensures that Habitat homeowners are not only prepared to take on the initial costs of buying a home but are also equipped to manage their finances sustainably in the long term. The importance of this education and counseling cannot be overstated. It lays the groundwork for informed, confident decision-making, reducing the risk of foreclosure and financial strain that can accompany homeownership. Moreover, it empowers individuals and families, giving them a sense of control and ownership over their financial futures.

Homeowner Education in Chester County

Here in Chester County, Habitat homeowners must complete 11 hours of homebuyer education and credit counseling. This training is provided through partnerships with organizations like the Family Savings Program by Open Hearth and Credit Counseling by the Housing Partnership of Chester County. The curriculum covers critical topics such as budgeting, saving, understanding credit scores, and navigating the first-time home-buying process. 

Family Savings Program by Open Hearth

Open Hearth’s Family Savings Partner Program (FSP) is the only single asset development initiative across the county aimed at helping individuals and families secure their financial futures. FSP matches a family’s savings to assist in reaching a specific asset goal, such as purchasing a car, pursuing higher education, or buying their first home (depending on available funding). To qualify for the savings match, savers must consistently save for at least three months and fulfill the financial education requirement by attending a series of financial workshops.

Credit Counseling by Housing Partnership of Chester County

The Housing Partnership of Chester County’s credit counseling program assists individuals in resolving and avoiding future credit issues, creating a family budget, and establishing a timeline for achieving results. We schedule regular meetings to ensure adherence to all steps and monitor progress toward the goal of homeownership.

Home Closings in Coatesville, April 2024

This past April 2024, we celebrated four home closings in our Cambria Terrace neighborhood in Coatesville, PA. Nigina Souell, John and Monte Woodward, the Wah family, and the Kebeh Gleh family were thrilled to take this next step in homeownership with HfHCC. 

woman hugging a habitat for humanity worker

Throughout the homeownership process, Nigina stated, “I am very eager to complete the hours and classes. I am determined to get these things done and to see where this new journey leads my family. Right now, I have a lot of emotions about participating in the classes, nerves not knowing what to expect like the first day of school, but also excited and eager to learn something new. With these classes, I’m looking to learn how to budget the proper way and maximize my earnings to save for the future. With this program and process, I want to accomplish knowledge of the home buying process and credit counseling, also what it takes to maintain a home and the inner and outer working, so I can fix anything that goes wrong or breaks in the new house. During this I want to push myself to accomplish my goals of becoming a homeowner, and test new limits within myself.” 

man holding up keys and two woman
woman and man recieving key to home

Congratulations to Nigina, John, and Monte Woodward, the Wah family, and the Kebeh Gleh family! These homeowners have worked hard through the Habitat homebuyer education process and sweat equity. When a Habitat homeowner receives the keys to their new affordable home, it is truly a full-circle moment of accomplishment, relief, and comfort.

Benefits of Homebuyer Education and Counseling

Homebuyer Education and Counseling promotes sustainable homeownership by reducing delinquency and foreclosure rates by 1-2 percentage points and increasing financial literacy by 14 percentage points. Early-stage homeowner delinquency rates have been at their highest since January 2020, but studies show that pre- and post-purchase homebuyer education can help mitigate these risks.

This education component is a key factor in the success stories of countless Habitat homeowners who have turned their dreams of owning a home into reality. As we celebrate National Homeownership Month, let's recognize the vital role homebuyer education and counseling play in the journey toward homeownership. These programs are more than just a requirement; they are a cornerstone of Habitat for Humanity's mission to build stronger, more informed communities through the power of homeownership. Learn more about Habitat for Humanity of Chester County’s homeownership program and our developments in West Grove and Coatesville


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