ED Magedson – Founder
Habitat for Humanity103 East Hwy 260 Payson, Arizona United States of America
Just today I discovered this website with a handful of Habitat for Humanity complaints. I am in a stressful situation with my local Habitat for Humanity chapter, so after reading the other complaints and responses, I decided I'd tell my story here. This version of my story will be thorough, but not as detailed as the website I am in the process of creating. That website fully details every aspect of my struggles with Habitat. That website is called No Humanity For My Habitat, and you can access it at www.nohumanityformyhabitat.com. My problems with Habitat are expansive, and the one thing I've discovered over the last year is that there is little accountability for Habitat. It seems like they can get by with whatever they want. Mostly what Habitat has done in response to my complaints is demonize me and make me look like an uneducated fool. They've done a good job discrediting me even though my complaints are more than valid. I will describe all the wrong doings below. I HAVE MADE NOISE in trying to get my story out. I've complained to as many people within my local Habitat chapter as possible, but they've mostly ignored me. I've told as many people in my community as I can, but I have yet to find anyone who will truly help me. I have filed a formal complaint with Habitat International only to have Habitat International tell me they see no wrong doings, and that any problems I have must be resolved with my local Habitat chapter. I filed a complaint with the Attorney General in Arizona. My complaint to the AG was as objective and thorough as can be, but Habitat's response to my complaint was filled with very blatant mis-truths. It seems the Attorney General believed Habitat's false response, because the AG wrote me back saying they see no wrong doings, and can provide me with no help. I will go into more detail with this later in the story. Below is my account of the problems I've encountered dealing with Habitat for Humanity, and how buying a Habitat home has turned me into a potential criminal.
My wife and I moved to Payson, Arizona in August of 2007. We had been living an adventurous lifestyle, working in Alaska in the summers, and in the desert southwest in the winters. We worked in tourism, adventure travel, and the outdoor industries. We were living full time in a small RV. It was a great lifestyle, but my wife got pregnant in early 2006 while we were guiding for an outdoor school in Utah. We had our first son in Alaska in September of 2006, spent that winter in Arizona, and worked the 2007 summer in Alaska again where my wife got pregnant for a 2nd time. The 2nd pregnancy was going to put a temporary stop to our nomadic life, so we decided to move to Arizona. We landed in Payson, and 3 1/2 years later haven't left. 2 months after we moved to Payson we decided to open a small bicycle shop and outdoor store. We had the store up and running by November of 2007. It was a pretty random idea to open a retail store here, and we took a big risk in doing so. Even though the national economy was going downhill, our new retail store did well from the start. We invested a lot of money into the shop, which meant we couldn't afford to move out of the RV. 2008, our first full calendar year in business was incredible. I thought we had landed on a gold mine, but........bicycle shops were late in getting hit by the economy, so it wasn't until 2009 as our town was being decimated by the economic downfall, that our shop's revenue was taking a downturn too. Early into 2009, my wife and I were looking to buy a new home, but by early summer, we knew there was no way we could afford to move out of the RV. I was working every week of the year, 65+ hours every single week, hardly taking a day off, taking no vacation time, and barely making above minimum wage as a small business owner. My wife and I sold off every big possession we had except for the RV which we were living in. Friends of ours in Payson had told us about Habitat for Humanity. For about 9 months straight, they encouraged us to apply for a new Habitat home, but I turned them down over and over. I wasn't interested in buying a low income home even though my entire family was living in a tiny 21-foot RV. My wife gave birth to our 2nd son in March of 2008, and she gave birth to our daughter in May of 2009. We had 3 kids in 3 years, all 3 kids were in diapers, and we were working so hard to stay on top of all aspects of our life. It was hard to juggle everything, and the RV was becoming too small for all of us. After our daughter was born, my wife and I decided to look into the Habitat option. It was the only real option we had to get us out of the RV. We called our friend, he put us in touch with his mom who is on the Family Selection Committee, she encouraged us to apply, so we did. We were quickly approved for a Habitat home, but we only had 5 months to fulfill all of Habitat's requirements. 5 months to fulfill all Habitat requirements is not much time. Most families get 1-2 years to work with Habitat, so you can only imagine how stressful it was for our family to take on a large task while running a busy retail store, while parenting 3 kids 3 and under.
Habitat gave us 500 Sweat Equity hours to start, and my wife was at the Habitat jobsite every day earning our family's Sweat Equity. I couldn't be at the jobsite because I was so busy with our store. During the 2009 summer we couldn't afford an employee (we had a bike mechanic helping us in 2008). All the economic downturn meant for a small business owner like me was that I had to work twice hard for half as much pay. During that 2009 summer, I worked 3 months straight with barely a day off, and I was working 10-12 hours every day. My wife and I made an agreement that she would focus on the kids and Habitat, and I would focus solely on the store. My wife is integral in helping with the store, but because she was working hard with Habitat, I had to work even more hours in the store to compensate for her not being there. It came back to us pretty quickly that certain people within our local Habitat chapter didn't like it that I wasn't showing up to the jobsite. I can see where they were coming from, and if I was at home watching sports, they had a good point, but because I was working so hard trying to keep our shop from going under, Habitat had no means to criticize me for not showing up at the jobsite. It was even discussed at a Habitat Board Meeting that Habitat volunteers would come run my store so that I could go to the jobsite. What a realistic concept! Like I am going to hand over my entire store to a Habitat volunteer so that I can go do Sweat Equity. The bottom line is if I am not in my store, my store can't make money, and if we don't make money, how are we suppose to pay the mortgage on our new Habitat home? Habitat should have been praising a hard-working middle class father like me for working so hard to make ends meet. Instead, I felt like a handful of Habitat volunteers formed a grudge against me.
About 6 weeks into the Sweat Equity process, Habitat told us that if we didn't have our Sweat Equity fufilled by mid-November, we would lose our home. This news came late as we thought we had more time to work with. The problem was our local Habitat chapter wasn't building one site built home for one family at a time, they were building 5 condos interconnected in a Habitat specific condo complex. Habitat had $50,000 dollars in government grants that was given to build each of these homes $250,000 taxpayer dollars in total), so Habitat had very specific requirements to follow in order to not lose those government grants. Habitat had to have all 5 homes signed for and occupied by a certain day, mid-November of 2009. Out of all 5 families approved for these new condos, my wife and I were the only married couple. The other 4 families were comprised of single moms. There are 13 kids in our phase of 5 condos. The single moms only had to fulfill 300 hours of Sweat Equity. Habitat knew it was iffy on whether we could get 500 hours in by November, so our local Habitat's Board of Directors voted to reduce our hours to 300 making us even with the other 4 moms. That was a nice gesture, and we are grateful they did that for us.
During the Sweat Equity process, we didn't really know any real problems were forming. We trusted Habitat without question. We assumed they would do everything properly, with the ideology of putting the low income homeowner first. It wasn't until we signed for our home that the real problems began. During the Sweat Equity process, we had to attend mandatory educational meetings. In these meetings, Executive Habitat Board Members went over every rule and regulation pertaining to our new homes. I am a fairly educated, fairly intelligent individual, and I ask a lot of questions. One of the first questions I asked was what the selling price of the home was. I was told by someone on the Family Selection Committee that our homes appraised at $160,000 dollars, but were being sold to us for $142,000 dollars. I thought $142,000 dollars was high for a 1180 square foot condo in a low income housing complex. I did question the validity of that price, but I accepted it as the selling price. In one of those educational meetings, multiple Habitat Board members were present. I asked out loud to everyone in the meeting whether those Habitat Board Members thought that at the selling price of $142,000 dollars, we might be upside down in our new homes because the housing market in Payson was being decimated by the economy. Housing prices were falling across the board, and $142,000 dollars bought a pretty nice home in our town in 2009, let alone a low income condo. I asked that question to 5 key people in the Habitat organization, and none of them corrected me or said I was wrong in saying the selling price was $142,000. Habitat's response to my question (this response came from someone who recently ran on the Democratic ticket, though ultimately lost out to be the next Arizona State Senator in my district) was that they never took into consideration that housing prices might be falling, and a key Executive Habitat Board Member actually looked me in the eye, in front of a dozen people and said, yes you might be upside down in your new home. What? I couldn't believe it! It was the first major red flag to come about. Habitat was admitting ahead of time that they were selling low income condos for more than their actual value. Even more amazing was that the actual selling price of the home proved to be a lot higher, but we wouldn't find that out until the actual signing day. The bottom line to the educational meetings is that Habitat went over all the rules and regulations in those meetings. Habitat made us initial many a document in those meetings stating we would follow their rules and regulations. It never dawned on me they wouldn't follow them in return. What made that worse was that our local Habitat chapter was very adamant in saying that if you didn't follow their rules, you wouldn't get your home. Habitat had a 6th single mom lined up to take over in case any of the other 5 families fell through. It was openly discussed that Habitat felt we would be the family who wouldn't ultimately fulfill all the obligations, so you can imagine how we felt when that 6th prospective homeowner would show up to our new house to do her own Sweat Equity in hopes that she would ultimately get our home. I'd like to know how many other Habitat homeowners across America have people come into their new homes with the intent to take them away? While I don't blame Habitat for having an extra family lined up, it was disheartening to feel all the hard work you were doing to qualify for this new home was regularly on edge of being lost.
About 6-8 weeks before we were to sign for our new homes, Habitat dropped a bombshell on all of us homeowners. They told us we were responsible for painting our own homes. I was livid when I heard this. Habitat even went on to say that we were responsible for painting the exterior backyard fences on the homes. Even for the families that had already fulfilled ALL of their Sweat Equity, Habitat still made them paint the homes. Before we were told that we had to paint our own homes, the Executive Director of our local Habitat chapter told us she had a church group of volunteers lined up to help paint our homes. Those volunteers were even called the Holy Rollers. We always assumed volunteers were showing up to help paint the homes, but those volunteers never did show up. Very few volunteers ever showed up to help on any aspect of the home. There was a core group of 4-6 guys who showed up everyday to do construction, but those 4-6 guys were building 5 homes at one time, not 1. You can only imagine how hard those 4-6 guys volunteers worked to get 5 homes done at one time. We can't praise them enough! As for why Habitat decided to make us paint our own homes at the last minute, we can only assume that Habitat upper management got in a bind, panicked a bit, and just decided it was easier to make the homeowners responsible for painting their own homes. My wife spent weeks just priming and caulking our home, that when it came time to paint, there was little time left. We did get a little help from some Habitat volunteers, but it was minimal. The end result is our new Habitat home got a pretty bad paint job. There are massive runs in the paint, numerous spots that weren't painted where the primer shows through, and lots of unevenness in the thickness of the paint. It's just a bad paint job. My wife and I thought we'd wait until after we moved in and hire local painters to come finish painting the home (assuming it would probably be an affordable job), but the paint job was done so poorly that a reputable local painting service quoted us $1200.00 dollars to finish painting the home. That painting company even laughed at how bad the paint job on the new home was. To put into perspective how difficult the painting was, by the time Habitat thrust the painting onto us, we were at the point of barely getting our 300 hours of Sweat Equity in by closing day. Because we had to paint our own homes, and because my wife worked so hard to get the painting done, we had over 500 hours of documented Sweat Equity by signing day. Ultimately, even though Habitat reduced our hours to 300, we still got 500 hours in, in only 5 months. By making us paint our own homes, Habitat created an immense (and unnecessary) amount of stress on our family. At the same time, that pride you are suppose to feel in getting a new Habitat home all but vanished. I may sound ungrateful here, but when I look around my new home, especially at the paint on the walls, it only brings out negative emotions towards Habitat. It adds injury to insult that Habitat made us paint our own homes, then had the tenacity to lie about the selling price and so many other aspects of the home. I have 2 questions to ask here. Is it normal for Habitat to force prospective homeowners to take on such a large task even if they have their Sweat Equity completed? While I don't want to sound like a needless complainer, when we partnered with Habitat it was only discussed that we needed to fulfill a certain amount of Sweat Equity. It was never discussed that we were going to be forced to finish any certain task on the home. Considering how busy of a family we were, the painting on the home left a very bad taste in our mouths in regards to Habitat. My 2nd question in connection with this is why couldn't Habitat secure more volunteers? There's something to that question. We were led to believe by many former Habitat volunteers that our local Habitat had burned bridges with so many prior volunteers that they were having a hard time gaining new volunteers in our new town. This is an assumption that may not be true, but plenty of people have led us to believe this was/is the case.
By mid-November, we had fulfilled every Habitat requirement and were set to close on the home. On top of qualifying for the home, performing all the Sweat Equity, and attending all the mandatory classes, we also had to come up with a $2200.00 downpayment. In my opinion, Habitat shouldn't require any downpayment on a home. Coming up with $2200.00 dollars for a low income family of 5 like ours, who can't earn more than $24,600 a year is a lot of money. Many home loans, including Rural and FHA home loans pay 102% of the financing of a new home, including closing costs. It doesn't make sense why a non-profit like Habitat needs so much money up front. I can only assume it is to prove the seriousness in buying the home and the ability for that low income homeowner to be able to pay. If you can make the downpayment I guess they assume you can pay the mortgage. It's not like they really need the downpayment otherwise. Considering all the stress we had been through to fulfill every obligation, it never dawned on us things were only going to get worse. On signing day, Habitat had all 5 of us families lined up to consecutively sign. We were the first family in line. I was ready to buy our new $142,000 dollar home. My parents in Oklahoma were loaded up in a U-Haul to bring us some furniture, as living in the RV meant we owned few household possessions. We sat down at the Title Company, a phone book thickness of paperwork was laid in front of us, and one of the first things we saw was that our new home wasn't $142,000 dollars as promised, but rather $175,000 dollars. What? Where did $175,000 dollars come from? I took a step back immediately. I questioned the Executive Board Member on hand and asked him where that price came from. He did a good job playing dumb. I told him that we were told the homes were selling for $142,000, but he said little in response. He basically just asked if we were going to sign or not. I have to mention that this Board Member is the same guy who months earlier answered my question directly that we might be upside down in our new Habitat home at the $142,000 dollar selling price. In that meeting I asked 5 key Habitat Board Members about the $142,000 dollar selling price, and they never once corrected me by saying the selling price was $175,000. In those same educational meetings another Executive Board Member went over the selling price of the home. He told us the first mortgage equaled $92,000, the 2nd mortgage equaled $35,000 (government grant), the third mortgage equaled $15,000 (another government grant), and that Executive Board member clearly told us (when he brought up the 4th mortgage), not to worry about the 4th mortgage because it had no monetary value. Well.........if the 4th mortgage had no monetary value, then the first 3 mortgages do add up to $142,000 which equals the selling price we were told. We had no reason to think otherwise. Now that we were at the Title Company signing for a $175,000 dollar home, we found out that the 4th mortgage did have a monetary value. That monetary value equaled $33,000 dollars. Adding $33,000 to $142,000 made the selling price $175,000. Now I must ask why Habitat hid the $175,000 dollar selling price from us for the entire 5 months leading up to signing on the home? They had every opportunity to provide us with the real selling price. It cannot be an accident that they forgot to tell us it $175,000. Why did other people within the Habitat organization think the selling price was $142,000 too? Multiple other volunteers told us they were told by Habitat upper management that the homes were selling for $142,000. How could a non-profit organization that focuses solely on selling low income homes get the selling price of 5 new condos so wrong? Something isn't right here.
Habitat had our backs against a wall. We paid the $2200.00 downpayment. We had spent 5 months stressing over fulfilling Habitat's requirements, our parents had spent thousands to bring us a house full of furniture, and we had no time to work with. We had to sign for the home, or all was lost. We signed for the home with the intent that we would get to the bottom of these indiscretions later.
I started asking everyone I could about the selling price of the home. I was told by another Habitat volunteer that Habitat bases the selling price of the home off an appraisal. That volunteer is a prominent contractor in my community. He told me he felt our home wouldn't appraise for more than $90,000-$100,000 dollars let alone $175,000 dollars and that there wasn't a member of Habitat's Board who could agree those homes were actually worth $175,000. He encouraged me to pursue the selling price, so we did. The first thing we needed to see was the appraisal in which the selling price was based. Well, Habitat ignored our requests for the appraisal for about 6 weeks. My wife asked the Executive Director over and over to give us the appraisal, and the Director gave us every excuse in the book why she couldn't. After 6 weeks of trying we had to go around the Director and ask a higher up volunteer. That volunteer got us the appraisal immediately. The appraisal was a dandy. It was a one year old appraisal for a condo in Phase 1 of the complex. Habitat sold the Phase 1 condos for $175,000 dollars too. What made the appraisal so interesting is that the appraisal used 3 homes from the same condo complex to determine the value of that Phase 1 home. The homes that were used to create the value of the low income condo were all within the nicest condo complex in our community. That appraisal used the highest end condo complex to determine the value of low income condos. That's like going to a Porsche dealership to get an invoice to determine the price of a Kia. At the same time, once my wife and I went back and re-read Habitat's Homeowners Manual (the same manual that was discussed in those mandatory educational meetings), the manual stated that upon the completion of the construction of our homes, Habitat would hire an appraiser to get a recent appraisal on our specific home, and that recent appraisal would determine the selling price of our home. Well now, simple enough, except that Habitat didn't follow its own rules. Habitat didn't get a new appraisal, Habitat used an old appraisal for a different address than ours. Because the housing market is so volatile, the price of a home in 2008 would have been a lot higher than the price of a home in 2009. When I asked Habitat why they didn't get the appraisal, they first came back saying that the appraisal they used was valid, and there were no problems in using it (except that using an old appraisal for a different address contradicts what is written in Habitat's rules manual), then Habitat proceeded to lie and tell me that in an Executive Board meeting Habitat Board Members voted not to get a new appraisal as to save us homeowners the cost of the appraisal. What? That doesn't make sense. I knew when Habitat told this blatant mis-truth, they had no clue that I would go straight to the appraiser and ask him. When I asked the appraiser, he said that he had done appraisals for Habitat for years, and that he did them for free (no charge). He went on to say that his appraisal for Phase 1 of the condo complex was never meant to be used for Phase 2 and that he waited for Habitat to call him in to do a (free) Phase 2 appraisal, but since Habitat never called him, he assumed they used a different appraiser. He went on to then say that the price of our Phase 2 home in 2009 would have been a lot less than than the Phase 1 home in 2008 since home prices were dropping so much. Habitat has yet to respond to me in regards to the information I have collected on the appraisal. Instead of tackling my complaint head on that Habitat didn't disclose the true selling price of the home, and that they didn't follow a specific rule (get a new appraisal upon the completion of the construction of my home), Habitat just demonizes me, discredits me, and serves me with an Injunction. Yes the Executive Director of the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity took the time to go down to the local courthouse to file an Injunction against a homeowner who was unveiling lots of wrong doings within the organization. That was their way of taking care of me. Send a Constable to my store, serve me up, scare, me and hope I shut the hell up. The Injunction must have been filed in hopes of scaring me to get me to shut up, because it serves no other purpose otherwise.
What makes this worse is that the Executive Board Member who was key in hiding the true selling price of the home (the guy who looked me in the eye and said we would be upside down at the $142,000 dollar selling price) has already left the organization. He left immediately after we closed on our homes. Even worse is that Habitat currently owns all the equity in our home (even though realistically there is upwards of $75,000 dollars in negative equity in the home). It gets even more complicated because if I want to sell my home, according to Habitat's Homeowners Manual, I have to give Habitat the first right to buy back the home. When we go to sell the home, a new appraisal is suppose to be done, and that appraisal determines the selling price of the home (assuming it's a normal appreciating housing market). Well now, if Habitat didn't get an appraisal when they sold us the home, if we don't know the true value of the home when we actually bought it, if housing prices have continued to drop since we bought the home, how can Habitat buy back the home using a new appraisal's price? It's a catch 22. Let's say that I went to Habitat to sell them back my home (you better believe I am going to make certain they follow the rules if I did do this), and the new Board Members decided to play by the rules, so they get a new appraisal, and that appraisal comes back at $110,000 dollars. Is Habitat going to buy the home back for $65,000 less than they sold it. It is realistic that could happen. What if Habitat decides not to buy the home back. That would be a worse scenario as I could never sell the home for $175,000 on the open market. This is a good example of why it is/was so important for Habitat to follow it's own rules and regulations. Habitat is in an even stranger bind because they just started building Phase 3 of this condo complex. If the 5 new Phase 3 condos are completed in one year, and housing prices drop further, Habitat has already been called out by me for not getting a new appraisal. Let's assume they get a new appraisal for Phase 3, and that appraisal comes back at $110,000 dollars. Well Habitat will be forced to sell the homes for less than the first 3 mortgages (which might be a problem considering the $50,000 in government grants involved). If this is the case, then Habitat will be screwed every which way because Phase 3 homes will be sold for so much less, while us Phase 2 homeowners got screwed because we didn't buy our homes for their current market value on signing day. Habitat seems to have gotten themselves in a real bind (all because they thought they were above the rules).
What makes this even more interesting is that between 2002-2006, when our local Habitat chapter was selling only site built homes in middle class neighborhoods during the Real Estate boom in my town, those homes were being sold for $125,000-$140,000 according to public records. Now how is it that the same Habitat could sell site built homes during a housing boom for so much less than low income condos during a housing crisis? Doesn't make sense does it? Something is really wrong with all of this.
My Habitat story and complaint is long I know. I am trying to get through it too. I'm sick of typing, but there's so much to explain. Other problems we've had with buying our Habitat home include the HOA that is attached to this condo complex. On top of paying an exorbitant amount for the condo, Habitat is charging us $76.00 a month for HOA fees. This is a new low income complex and the HOA fees are already $76.00 dollars a month? At this rate, what will they be in 5-10 years? If you compare the HOA fees to our income, this HOA is equivalent to costing us 1 out of every 25-dollars we earn. That's a big part of our income, and I wholly believe Habitat could have kept the HOA fees a lot lower. Where the HOA gets interesting is that during all those mandatory educational meetings, Habitat really stressed how hard they were going to be in maintaining the HOA rules. A big reason I agreed to buy a home in this condo complex was that I was led to believe Habitat would properly maintain the HOA. Well now, after a year of living in the complex, the HOA is complete chaos (and completely bogus). Habitat has ignored most all HOA violations, and if we bring up a violation to the HOA Board, nothing gets done. I've read other complaints against Habitat on this website where homeowners say Habitat built their homes in known ghettos. The opposite is happening in my case. Habitat took a piece of property right the middle of my town, built 9 condos, and for the most part created a ghetto were nothing existed before. Calling my condo complex a ghetto is a bit harsh, but my wife and I have endured a lot of drama over the first year of living in the complex. One neighbor has had multiple bouts of domestic where her boyfriend (a known drug addict) beat her up while she was pregnant with her child. We were even told he crashed her car on purpose, flipping it off the road when she was on her way to give birth (seriously). I hope that story isn't true, but we've heard it from enough people that it is likely true (the Police have come the complex since looking for him). It seems the cops come to our complex regularly as it is. We've had to endure child neglect. One mother of multiple boys was arrested (we were told for threatening to kill her ex-boyfriend), and after her arrest her boys were taken away. We haven't seen those boys since. That mom won the home over another mom, so it is sad that mom is now living in a Habitat home without her kids while her Habitat home has has turned into quite a party house. We have had instances of vehicle damage by kids living in the complex (kids throwing rocks is the biggest problem as 3 windows have been knocked out). One Habitat Homeowner's dog got loose and attacked another homeowner's young daughter (she was bitten pretty good). We even had one homeowner who went months neglecting her dogs and not picking up the dog poop in her backyard. Animal Control had to come out to leave a notice for that neighbor to pick up the poop. The list could go on.
Habitat built these condos (14 condos total) with no parking for visitors. The parking is out of control as well. We only get 2 parking spaces per home, yet some homeowners use 3-4 spaces for their own cars (remembering there are only 2 extra spots for the entire complex). Some neighbors regularly have multiple friends come over, and they take up all of the spaces as well. Imagine paying $80.00 a month for an HOA you have no control over, only to come home and have no place to park. It doesn't happen every night, but it happens often enough. The trash is really out of control too. Some homeowners walk to the dumpster and just throw their trash on the ground. The trash spreads everywhere (seriously). It's an amazing mess. My wife and I have documented all of these issues with many photos, yet when we send the photos to Habitat, Habitat does little to resolve any HOA problems other than to try and demonize us as troublemakers). Well I can say that out of the 5 Phase 2 homeowners, we are the only couple who HASN'T had CPS or the Police come to their house.
At the same time, according to the HOA manual, and the CC&R's Habitat controls the HOA til Phase 3 is completed and the majority of the condos are occupied. When we moved into our condo, Habitat increased the HOA dues by $12.00 a month for grounds maintenance and weed control. That was in November of 2009. By June/July of 2010, even though all of us homeowners were spending approximately $112.00 dollars a month for weed control, no paid weed service had been hired to physically pull weeds. The weeds were out of control. When we asked Habitat why they were charging us for weed control and not controlling weeds, Habitat had to backtrack and go get a new estimate for weed control (they had been taking our money for 9 months and hadn't even hired a weed control company). They had nothing lined up by the middle of the summer. In a letter we received on July 4th (after we complained about the weeds not getting pulled), Habitat wrote they found a cheaper weed control company (it was cheaper because they pulled 1/4th of the weeds in the complex), and Habitat also noted we should get a refund for overpayment into the HOA in accordance with the weed control. Well once again, Habitat doesn't follow through on what it says. At to the last HOA meeting, Habitat claimed they had spent approximately $250.00-$300.00 on weed control, yet the homeowners had paid $1000.00-$1200.00 dollars into the HOA just on weed control (approximately $12.50 a month times 9 families for 1 year) if not more. Even back in August, Habitat had a church group come pull weeds for FREE (though Habitat bought them $250.00 dollars in ice cream - I think Habitat was mad that I found out they bought that church group ice cream - I'm more connected in this town than they give me credit for). I'd like to know if Habitat used our HOA money to buy the ice cream? At the same time, when I asked about getting a refund for the overpayment on weed control, Habitat told us that we needed to keep that money in the HOA to apply towards painting the homes in the next 5 years (how does weed money go towards future paint money). Another interesting fact is that according the HOA Manual, Habitat was suppose to install landscaping at the complex within 90-days of us moving into our homes. Well Phase 1 homeowners have lived in their homes for 2 years, and we've been in our homes for 1 year, and no landscaping has been installed. When I asked Habitat about the landscaping they used a lame excuse saying they couldn't install the landscaping until Phase 3 of the complex was finished which is another 12-18 months away (if not more). Why is it written in the HOA manual specifically, that the landscaping would be installed within 90-days if Habitat had no intent to install it even in the first 3 years? It's ugly at the complex with no plants (though we have a bunch of weeds).
The story gets better. Habitat included a 2-year warranty on all of our homes. Habitat has a whole section in the Homeowners Manual devoted to the warranty, and very specific warranty rules to go along with it. Before my wife and I fully moved into our home (November 20th of 2009), we had the construction committee come in to look at some of the problems in the home. Those problems included bad flooring (2 different colored carpets had been installed), almost immediately our linoleum was coming up, there were bubbles all over the linoleum, our sinks leaked, our door knobs were loose, there were exposed seems in the drywall, and the list could go on and on. 4 Habitat Board Members came into our home, inspected it, said the problems needed to be fixed, but they pretty much left it at that (didn't really fix the problems). The flooring installers did come out and fix the mix-matched carpet, and the plumber did fix our leaking sinks (though he told us over and over that our sinks are so cheap they are always going to leak a little), but the majority of the problems were ignored. Habitat states in its Homeowners Manual that we are suppose to call Habitat with any warranty concerns. It goes on to say Habitat will call us back within 24-hours. 24-hours? Habitat pretty much didn't call at all, and after we bugged the Executive Director enough (the lady who filed the Injunction against me), she told us that we needed to call the contractors and sub-contractors ourselves, and that it was not her job to call for us (well that's not what the Homeowner's Manual states). the Director even gave us a list of numbers to call. Since she was no help to us, we called the sub-contractors ourselves, but oddly enough they never called us back. We called the flooring installers numerous, numerous times and they never called us back. Well our warranty was for 2-years, but after 1-year, as a few new problems developed, we decided to file a formal complaint against Habitat with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. The Registrar didn't accept our first complaint (because we didn't file it against an actual license number), but the General Contractor on our house called us immediately to say he'd come out and fix all of our problems promptly. That was great news. We'd already waited a year. The Contractor told us he'd call us that same work week to come out and fix the issues. Well one week turned into two and two turned into 3. Soon enough 6 weeks had passed, and the Contractor never called us back. We felt one year and 6 weeks was more than enough time, so we filed a 2nd complaint with the Registrar. The Registrar came out on December 3rd, 2010 to do an inspection. The Contractor showed up for the inspection (he didn't call us prior to that even though the Registrar encouraged him to), and my wife, the Contractor, and the Registrar went over every complaint we had. After the inspection, we waited a week to receive a Corrective Work Order from the State of Arizona. The State gave the Contractor 15 days to fix a very specific list of problems. The Contractor waited 11 days to come fix the problems. He didn't fix every problem on the list, and the repair they did to the flooring was actually worse (no kidding). They fixed the bubbling in our linoleum, where it was coming up at the edges, by gluing a plastic molding to the floor (the linoleum wasn't glued down to begin with). Well after supposedly repairing the floor, the plastic molding they glued down popped off, the linoleum bubbled up even worse, and now we have exposed glue to look at (good work guys). According to the Registrar, the State can charge the Contractor $500.00 dollars for every repair not finished in time. Why would a licensed contractor risk thousands of dollars in fees with a citation against his license over a Habitat for Humanity home (especially when he is just beginning building 5 new Habitat homes)?
This whole Habitat ordeal is a joke. As a small business owner in America, who is hardworking, who is educated, who is well traveled, who has some real life experience, what I gather is that Habitat for Humanity is best suited to those people who will not question authority or the way Habitat operates, and who will accept Habitat as an organization that controls every aspect of home ownership. Considering Habitat currently owns all the equity in the home they sold us for such a ridiculous price, considering Habitat hasn't fully upheld the 2-year home warranty, considering we pay $100.00 dollars a month in property taxes, considering we pay $76.00 dollars a month for a silly HOA, considering so many things have gone wrong in the 5 homes Habitat recently built (and my neighbors have worse warranty problems than we do, but for whatever reason they won't make Habitat come out to fix those problems), the only advantage I see to buying a Habitat home is that the mortgage is interest free. Other than the interest free aspect, I see no advantage to buying a Habitat home. I pay around $500.00 dollars a month for my Habitat condo. The monthly payment is great, and you won't hear me complain about how cheap my mortgage is, but considering I currently own no equity, considering my home has no equity, considering I am landlord and renter all-in-one, I feel buying this Habitat home is a bad investment. I live in a low income housing complex, and that feeling of being a proud homeowner does not realistically exist. I have friends in my community who recently bought a home using Rural/FHA financing. They bought a site built home in a nicer neighborhood than ours, for only $100,000 dollars. Their mortgage is only about $150.00 dollars more a month than our mortgage is, yet they own all the equity in their home. When they go to sell their home, they have a real chance to put all the money they invest into the home back into their pocket. With my Habitat home, I will get next to nothing back if I sell my home in the next 5 years, which puts my home ownership on par with a renter who has no landlord to fix any problems.
The last thing I want to mention in this complaint is that Habitat for Humanity seems to be run by very, very well-to-do volunteers who were successful in their business careers. The current President of our local Habitat chapter runs an Edward Jones Investments firm. Habitat has no excuse for dropping the ball on so many of these issues. This isn't a government organization. Habitat is a very successful non-profit. Even though my family pays back on a cheap, interest free mortgage, it is no excuse for Habitat not to follow it's own rules and regulations, doing things properly. I know the people who run my local Habitat Chapter know better than to run a business like this. Many of the Habitat volunteers who don't want to help uphold our Habitat HOA live in half million to million dollar homes in elite golf course communities where their HOA costs many hundreds of dollars a month. They know the ins and outs of HOA's, and I know if their neighborhood had the issues our Habitat complex has had, they would be screaming bloody murder. It's a true double standard. Why Habitat will not right the wrongs I've listed in this complaint, yet take the time to file an Injunction against me, is beyond comprehension. I am only guilty of being a loud mouth whistle blower exposing the wrong doings of the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity.
At the same time, I would simply walk away from my Habitat home if it weren't for one thing holding me back. Like every other first time home buyer in America for most of the last 2 years, I took advantage of the $8,000.00 first time home buyer tax credit. We took the $8,000 dollars and invested all of it into our store. That $8,000 dollars is the only reason our store survived 2010. At the same time, I feel the $8,000 dollar tax credit is like a prison sentence forcing me to stay in an unpleasant situation. Since I am forced to live in this Habitat home for 3-years, I am d**n well going to speak up and uphold Habitat to any wrong doings. Hopefully in the long run, my outspokenness will help cure the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity against the ills it is currently operating under.
One last thing I also want to mention is that I filed a complaint with the Attorney General in Arizona in July of 2010. I filed a complaint with Habitat International at the same time too. I have contacted a dozen different media sources. I have spoken out, I've created noise, yet I've gotten nowhere with my complaints. Not one media source ever called me back. Habitat International had the nerve to tell me they saw no wrong doings. My local Habitat Chapter responded to my Attorney General complaint by dodging my complaints while trying to make me look like someone who was making up lies. Habitat actually told the Attorney General that I was not an active participant with Habitat (well then how did I earn any Sweat Equity at all if I wasn't participating?), and that I missed many of the educational meetings that were held. These were blatant lies. What Habitat failed to tell the Attorney General was that the meetings I missed took place before I ever applied for my Habitat home, and that Habitat had to hold make up meetings to get us up to par, and that I attended every meeting required once we were approved for our home. Habitat even told the Attorney General they were foreclosing on our home because we didn't pay $73.13 of our mortgage. Habitat is going to foreclose on a home because the homeowner didn't pay $73.13? What Habitat failed to tell the Attorney General was that the $73.13 I didn't pay was out of protest for Habitat not properly maintaining the HOA (it should also be noted that I have a very credible credit record with no bad marks against me - my credit is in the low to mid 700's). I told Habitat I would not pay another HOA fee until they provided me with a detailed account of the HOA, because they were taking our money and not providing the services we were paying for (weed control, grounds maintenance, landscaping, and upholding HOA violations). I say this because my complaints can be substantiated and backed up simply by reading Habitat's own Homeowner's Manual, yet Habitat only wants to discredit me by saying I am the one making up lies and spreading nasty rumors against them (politics in the good ole boys club at its best).
What I want at this point is the immediate resignation of the current President, Executive Director, and the Executive Board Member who is currently President of our HOA. Once they resign I hope the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity will re-group, restructure, and bring in a Board of Directors that will play by the rules, and who will put low income people first. I also want the Injunction against me removed since it was made up of lies as well. The Executive Director of my local Habitat blatantly lied in the Injunction saying I was threatening my neighbors. I have never once threatened any neighbor. Why she can file a court document with such a blatant lie is beyond me as well. I have contacted upwards of a dozen attorneys, trying to find an attorney who will help me clear my name, and once I have mentioned Habitat's name to those attorney's, they immediately tell me they cannot help because it would be a conflict of interest. It's like Habitat is a beast you cannot tame. There is no accountability. I hope someone reading this well write me with a valid suggestion to help me uphold Habitat against any wrong doings.
If you want to read more about my Habitat story, you can go to my official website at www.nohumanityformyhabitat.com
My wife just called and said the cops are at our complex again. I am still at work typing this out. I can't wait to get home and find out what drama unfolded tonight at our Habitat for Humanity condo complex.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 12/30/2010 09:48 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Habitat-for-Humanity/Payson-Arizona-85541/Habitat-for-Humanity-Payson-Area-Habitat-For-Humanity-The-Problems-Ive-Encountered-Buyi-677104. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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