Notforprofit housing groups help moderateincome people own their own homes

If you earn less than the average income for your area, another type of community effort can help you over the down payment hurdle. In nearly every city in the country, not-for-profit housing groups are helping low- to moderate-income families become homeowners.

One of the best not-for-profit groups is Habitat for Humanity. Its most famous volunteer worker has been former president Jimmy Carter. As a Christian service organization, Habitat's literature champions the fact that "thousands of volunteers around the world eagerly open their hearts [and checkbooks] and pick up their hammers to build houses in partnerships with God's people in need."

Similar to most not-for-profit housing groups, Habitat accepts applications from hopeful homebuyers. It then chooses those families whose character and sense of responsibility well suit them for home ownership. If selected, you'll buy a Habitat home with a $500 to $1,000 cash down payment, and 300 to 500 hours of work helping the volunteers build your home.

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