I wanted to take a moment today to explain “sweat equity.” When families sign up for our Home Ownership Program, they are only required to contribute to closing costs. The program was set up like this because we understand that few low-income families can afford to put down a large deposit on a house.

Habitat for Humanity Seattle – King County homeowners are asked to put in 250 hours of “sweat equity.” Types of “sweat equity” can range from helping with repairs and construction to volunteering in one of our stores. Homeowners can also meet their sweat equity requirements by taking Habitat education classes and learning about mortgages, insurance, maintenance, safety, and other important topics.

It is a central principle in Habitat’s mission of building community and partnering with families to provide “a hand up, not a handout.” As a result of working on their home and other projects, Habitat homeowners gain a feeling of accomplishment and feel more invested in their own communities.

The idea of families working side by side with volunteers is not a new one, and goes back even before Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976. Clarence Jorda (the founder of Koinonia Farm where Habitat for Humanity began) wrote in a 1968 letter, “What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers but co-workers.”