Report: #677104

Complaint Review: Habitat for Humanity

  • Submitted: Thu, December 30, 2010
  • Updated: Wed, May 28, 2014
  • Reported By: Me Who — Payson Arizona USA
  • Habitat for Humanity
    103 East Hwy 260
    Payson, Arizona
    United States of America

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

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 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

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.

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 12/30/2010 09:48 PM and is a permanent record located here: 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. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#1 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: noway - (USA)

I started to feel sorry for the guy and maybe he has a legitimate complaint but I stopped reading when he wrote:

"And my wife got pregnant"

Well, isnt that nice!  You are not teen agers are you?  Sounds like you got yourself into a bad 

financial situation because you did not use protection, well that is unless she got pregnant on her own.

You got her pregnant I presume.

If you did not want kids you should have had a vascectomy.  So you got her pregnant and now

you have a financial problem.  Take responsiblity please. 

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#2 General Comment

Were you a good fit to begin with?

AUTHOR: Rachel - (USA)

It sounds to me that you thought you were "too good" to be a Habitat Homeowner from the very beginning. You questioned whether you wanted to live in low income housing before you even went to the first meeting. You pointed out that you were an intelligent person and you didn't appreciate their classes. You didn't want to follow the rules laid out by Habitat and they even changed them for you, yet you still weren't happy. Bad things can happen in any neighborhood and maybe you feeling you are superior to these "single" mothers made you an unapproachable neighbor. Too bad you're so negative insteading of being grateful you have a house over your head instead of living in a trailer. I'm sure your negativity has brushed off on your children and you are creating a second generation of you. Move back into your trailer and let someone else who is worthy have the home.

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#3 General Comment

You need to wake up and get tough

AUTHOR: Cashish - ()

Guy, if you don't sue Habitat you are insane.  The point of suing is not just to get money from them, it is to protect yourselves and set the record straight.  The money part is a punishment to them and it's supposed to teach them a lesson so they think before doing it to other innocent victims.  The money part would also be used for your pain and suffering and emotional abuse, and as a means for you and your wife to secure a safer and healthier environment for yourselves and your 3 children because that place is a ticking bomb.

You need to contact a personal attorney, not the state's attorney general.  Do you really believe government is there to help you at this point?  It is corrupt from top to bottom and corporations like Habitat count on it and they grease the pockets of these clowns so they can get away with their twisted form of communism they're trying to spread.  The Soviet Union had better standards than these clowns do and they don't care one bit if you're living in a hovel because your job is to provide them with free labor while you pay for what will ultimately belong to them in the end anyway!!!

Please do yourself, your family and every other would-be Habitat victim out there a favor and consult with an attorney on this matter.  You clearly have a case, the consultation will be free anyway and you can get out of this mess quickly and financially better off.  You and your loved ones are worth it and you deserve it!

By the way, since the first time I went into a Habitat store in Cottonwood, AZ I was totally unimpressed by their approach to humanity.  It's just a clever name and it is making somebody rich somewhere regardless of the front of it being a non-profit.  How do I know this?  Because they don't pay their employees and they sell junk that is donated to them at above fair market value.  In other words, I could go to Home Depot right down the street and buy the same brand new lighting fixture Habitat is selling used and missing parts for $5 less.  That's just one example, but even their used donated furniture is way over priced.  They sell early 1980s style dressers and desks and such for higher prices than they would have cost new in 1980.

Best of luck, please let me know that you are proceeding with a case, I will gladly help you find someone to take the case and even provide some research into the organization, anything to shut these clowns down!!!


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#4 Consumer Comment

to the person who said HFH has to pay lawyers...


HFH has many lawyers who work with the organization, so I don't know how much of an issue that would be for them. It's the homeowners who most likely would not be able to afford attorneys for representation.
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#5 Author of original report

End Result

AUTHOR: Me Who - (USA)

To the last person who just responded, thank you for your response. My response here isn't to be argumentative or negative. I am only responding because it's been awhile since I have responded to any of the posts on here, and I wanted to set the record straight a little more.

As for saying that lawsuits cause you and Habitat to have to spend more money, there is no lawsuit on my end. I am not suing Habitat, so no worries there. As for Habitat having to pay legal fees, I would think most Habitat for Humanity's have pro bono attorneys. I know my local Habitat had attorneys who worked for free to help them. If I sued Habitat, it would cost me a lot more money then it would Habitat, and it would be almost impossible to win against them. I'd be dumb to sue Habitat, but.....when Habitat for Humanity's take money and don't provide the services they are charging their homeowners for, then someone needs to speak up.

If you have had good luck in dealing with your local Habitat, that is great but you can't group all Habitat for Humanity's together as a whole. Each local Habitat for Humanity is its own entity. While they operate under the Habitat International umbrella, they are not fully governed by Habitat International. Because of that, each individual local Habitat for Humanity operates a little differently. I may be wrong, but I talked extensively to Habitat International about my problems. I also talked to other Habitat affiliates in other towns across Arizona. What Habitat International told me is that they have no control over what my local Habitat was doing. What the other Habitat's told me is that a lot of the issues I was having would not be issues in those other Arizona towns simply because those other Habitat entities don't operate in the same exact manner as my local Habitat does.

Since I posted this Report, and since my last response on this page I have put Habitat behind me. I gave Habitat their home back and I walked away. My walking away was me partially giving up, but it was also because the situation was bad, and it was a situation my family didn't deserve to be in. I deleted the website I built and listed above because I want to put Habitat behind me, learn from it, and forge a happier future for my wife and kids (which we are doing).

You have to remember that my local Habitat came to us asking my wife and I for months to apply for a home. My local Habitat branch in Arizona couldn't find enough families to qualify for the homes they were building. It took me 9 months to finally give in and apply for a Habitat home. Habitat promised us so many things through the approval process, but when we finally moved into our home the reality was very different. We didn't receive many of the services we were paying our hard  earned money for.

What Habitat promised us was not he said/she said type of stuff. Habitat had very specific rules and regulations written into their homeowner's manuals and HOA manuals they made us sign and agree to. We paid money to Habitat for specific services they weren't providing. Habitat is a business. My agreements with Habitat were business related. If I paid for a service that was clearly written out in a Habitat manual, don't I deserve to receive the service I paid for? Just because it's Habitat you're telling me I should just turn a blind eye and let them take advantage of 14 homeowners?

The first homeowners in our Habitat complex moved into their homes in late 2008. We moved into our homes in late 2009. The last homeowners moved in, in late 2011. The down payment I made on my home included landscaping. Habitat charged me up front for the landscaping around my home. Remember this is a Habitat complex with 14 Habitat condos all lined up in a row. You probably live in an individual Habitat home in a normal neighborhood. These Habitat condo complexes popping up around the country are very different, and have very different problems that arise when you group Habitat homeowners together. My Habitat complex had a very strict HOA. By the end, I was paying 90.00 something dollars a month for that HOA. 76.00 dollars went to the HOA, plus Habitat was charging a 15.00 dollar a month maintenance fee charge.

After 24 months of living in my Habitat home, the landscaping hadn't been installed. My Habitat HOA manual clearly stated that the landscaping was to be installed within 60-days of moving into my home. Habitat installed the landscaping I paid for after I moved out of the house, but it took Habitat 27 months to install something that as far as my contractual agreement is concerned was to be installed within 60-days. Is that right?

My local Habitat wasn't following through on the home warranty that was promised to us when we bought the home. Habitat installed faulty water filtration systems in almost every home. In my building, which includes 5 condos grouped together, at least 4 of those condos have water filtration systems that leaked through the walls into the living rooms of each home.

One of the Habitat homes flooded badly. When a water damage restoration company was called to look at the water damage to that one Habitat home, it was recommended by that company to rebuild the water damaged parts of that home. Habitat turned down that request and told the company to basically do nothing.

In my specific circumstance, when our water filtration system leaked through the walls of our home flooding part of our living room carpet, Habitat's response was to send their plumber to our home where he completely removed the water filtration system. I was mad when Habitat did that, and I asked them on numerous occasions to re-install a fully functioning water filtration system. I paid for a house that had a water filtration system. What right does Habitat have to sell me a home with a filtration system, then when that filtration system fails, remove the system completely without replacing it or refunding us for the cost of it?

If you bought a new car under warranty and the AC went out in your new car, and if you brought that car back to the dealership to have the AC repaired, only to have the dealership completely remove the AC rather than fix it, wouldn't that constitute as fraud? Why would it be any different in my case just because it's Habitat? Habitat needs to act in a fair and ethical manner just like any for-profit business needs to.

Like I mentioned before, Habitat was charging us for weed control, yet no weed control was being done. No weed company was being hired on a regular basis to do weed control. If you were paying your hard earned money for weed control, and it wasn't being done, wouldn't you speak up to? I wasn't responsible for my own weed control because this was a condo complex, not an individual home. We were forced to pay HOA fees that were suppose to cover these issues.

I could go on and on about more and more specific Habitat problems, but it's all in the past now since I moved out of the home 4 months ago. What was worse were the problems we faced with other Habitat homeowners in that complex. Our problems with Habitat were never resolved, but more importantly we couldn't continue to live in our condo solely based on the legal problems we encountered with many of our neighbors. These weren't problems where-as we couldn't get along with our neighbors. These were problems where-as our neighbors kept getting in trouble with the law, and we had to live next to their problems.

We witnessed child abuse in that complex, child neglect, even child molestation. I can't tell you how many times the Police came to our complex. I am not making this up. One Habitat mom's boyfriend was beating her and her son. He was arrested and got 10 years in prison for his crimes. He was convicted last year. My wife was subpoenaed by the State in that case to testify against the boyfriend because my wife was home when the boyfriend beat up our neighbor (that neighbor ran to our home to beg my wife to call 911). That boyfriend reached a plea with the State, so my wife wasn't forced to go to court. His plea included a 10-year prison sentence.

As for the child neglect, one of our Habitat neighbors was a single mom with 5 kids. For a few months in a row during the summer of 2010, that mom would leave every night to go party at the bar, leaving her 5 young kids at home alone. She was arrested in August of 2010, and once the Police discovered the child neglect her boys were removed from the home. She lost custody of all 5 kids, and the state even took away her visitation rights. She followed that up by......having another kid. SERIOUSLY!

As for the molestation, 2 adolescent Habitat boys were caught molesting a 5 year old boy on 4-5 occasions. The state got involved in that case too, even calling us to see if we had witnessed any of those incidents (which we hadn't). The sex and drugs were overwhelming too. The mom who lost custody of her 5 boys would bring numerous different men to her home and you could hear the sex going on, on a regular basis. Our immediate neighbors yelled and screamed at each other all the time, and we'd clearly hear their fighting through the walls of our home. Living in that complex was bad. The people Habitat chose to live in those condos had a lot of problems, and it seemed their problems escalated once we all moved into the condos.

We had to get out of there simply because we didn't want to live in a ghetto. Ever since moving out, it has been a huge weight off our shoulders. Life is so much better beyond Habitat. I am sorry I ever partnered with Habitat, but it definitely was a true life learning experience.

All the Best!
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#6 Consumer Comment

fellow american

AUTHOR: Shame on you - (United States of America)

if anyone is to point fingers it should be to the complainers. everyone of us take crap from someone or place on a everyday basis. do we complain about or object to everything? no, we don't. we weight them out to choose the most important, then go for it.

i have read this complaint & you seem to have valid points. but really, why don't you spend your time worrying about your community & how habitat can & would help you & your business instead 
of making them have to charge more because of lawyer fees they have to pay because of your complaints.  

Habitat has been a blessing to me & my children when i was single & still a blessing now that i am married. somethings i don't agree with sometimes about habitat for humanity but i can say 99.9 percent of the time i have no problem with what they do or how they do it.

how's this, you the prosecutors get sued, because of you & your law suits it has made it hard now for the rest of us 99.9 percent have to pay more.  we receive some money from your law suits to pay the difference of upping the cost due to your lawsuits????? your a smart person, do the right thing & stop this. 
your fellow american, tax payer, business owner & humanitarian. 

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#7 UPDATE EX-employee responds

This is standard habitat operations

AUTHOR: Critical Thinker - (United States of America)

What is described here are Habitat operations as usual.  I worked as a full-time volunteer/construction lead/board member and operations director for a short time for a small dysfunctional affiliate. 

Habitat runs on the theory that volunteers can build quality houses, worthy of market value.

The reality is that most of the homes are shoddily built, basic protocol of business and construction operations is often loose or non-existent as the branches are most often run by volunteers -- and any warm body is considered an asset.  

There are large affiliates that are doing it right, such as in the south in the Katrina region and in large urban areas.  But unfortunately, in smaller cities and towns, these branches or "affiliates" as Habitat calls them, run pretty on their own as independent organizations that carry the Habitat name and follow a loosely policed (if at all) set of guidelines handed out by the Habitat International -- the umbrella organization that supposedly oversees and supports the affiliates.

In reality, affiliates exist as dysfunctional organizations that barely meet the housing needs of their region, if at all.  They satisfy their requirement to send a portion of their earnings (on mortgages) to the International mother organization and they then left alone. 

Habitat International and separate affiliates have suffered numerous claims against them for negligence in building, negligence in safety -- causing serious injury and death to volunteers.   Habitat is founded on a good mission, but unfortunately the emphasis on volunteer-run operations and build operations in order to meet the low threshold of build cost required to offer the low monthly payment and no interest loans to homeowners means that quality of product, safety and professionalism fly out the window.

Getting involved with a small affiliate can become a nightmare for anyone who expects professionalism, responsibility and consistency in practice.  With the high turnover of volunteers, the often lack of having requirements for skillsets specific to managing a construction company, mortgage company and small business, most Habitats fail miserably in delivering the goods as promised.

Also, most Habitat board members and volunteers tend to harbor a holier than thou attitude, pumped up as they are by the righteousness of their mission, outside criticism is scoffed at or ignored outright.  They tend to feel that they are not bound by normal accepted rules of professionalism in operations and thus will often be loathe to take responsibility for their actions or even to see the error in their ways.

I would recommend anyone considering purchasing a Habitat house or volunteering with Habitat to consider the idea carefully.  Examine the operations of the affiliate, do they have a professional paid staff to oversee daily operations and do they have a separate paid staff to oversee construction?  Is the board made up of professionals who have experience in the legal, real estate or construction fields?  Ask about their other projects, meet past homeowners and ask them about their experience, the quality of their new home and how the experience was for them from beginning to end.

Worse is that many volunteers and home owners are left to feel out in the cold when they have a problem or complaint.  When the system of denial is in full effect, resolving problems in a timely fashion often becomes the least important goal -- as this requires an interest in improvement of operations and systems.  Since many Habitat affiliates align their work with godliness, they tend to immediately rationalize their difficulties and blame overly demanding or non-compliant behavior as the reason for volunteers or service recipients having problems.

This also extends to the behavior toward those volunteers who suffer injury on the site.  I saw with my own eyes, on many sites, blatant violations of accepted safety standards in the industry.  As a professional contractor, I am very well aware of the high level of risk related to the activity of construction and serious accidents that can result, including loss of life. 

Habitat volunteers have been permanently crippled and some have died on jobsites.  Most often these accidents are due to a failure to follow accepted rules of safety, other time it is because the chance of injury increases exponentially with the risk of the activity involved.  In other words, even the best laid plans can go awry and accidents will happen.  Construction is rated as one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.  

Volunteers are mandated to sign a waiver before they are allowed on a construction site.  This waiver indemnifies and holds the affiliate harmless in the case of accidents.  Many affiliates have coldly followed this waiver rule to the letter -- literally blaming the victim of an accident and failing to follow up with proper care and filing a claim. Habitat does have insurance to cover volunteers in the case of serious accidents, but the culture at Habitat is to not necessarily avoid accidents -- but to ride on the language of the waiver and deny even the most egregious victims and families of victims the relief they deserve. 

Again, proceed with caution as Habitat, while having a noble cause and mission formulated by a very idealistic and respectable founder, Millard Fuller, unfortunately has decided that production of houses for the benefit of the fundraising operations and profit of the greater International organization is more important than providing just, caring and proper service to their mission.

I would recommend highly that anyone with a problem with Habitat who is not receiving relief from the affiliate they've dealt with, immediately look for legal representation and file for relief with the courts -- oh and don't assume that you can go it alone for large losses -- they have attorneys working for them who will fight tooth and nail to not release a dollar.
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#8 Author of original report

Update On This Story!

AUTHOR: Me Who - (USA)

I see the last rebuttal on this report states that someone is willing to bet there is a lot more to this story. There is always more to a story, and with a story like this, there is another side to the story as well. The Payson Area Habitat for Humanity has their side of the story!

When I wrote this report, I didn't have an opportunity to write it out, edit it, proof read it, re-edit it, and so on. I had to write it out in one sitting, which took a considerable amount of time. I realize in re-reading my own story that I was in a hurry, that I didn't write as coherent of a story as I would have liked, and that a lot of my story was as much rant as factual detail. What I wrote is true from my perspective, but I would have liked to have been able to proof read and edit this article a few times before submitting it. Since I can't go back and edit my original text, it is what it is.

I don't know if the folks at the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity know I posted this report. I haven't told them.

My problems with Habitat have hardly improved since I originally posted this report. I can say that the Arizona Registrar of Contractors did force Habitat's General Contractor to finally fix a lot of the faulty construction in our home, but the General Contractor took 2 months longer than the Registrar's original due date to fix those problems.

At the same time, the water filtration system in one of the Habitat condos two doors down from us burst last week, and flooded the entire downstairs of our neighbors home. We were told that neighbor wasn't home, so there is a good chance that water was pouring into our neighbors home for a whole day or two. You can only assume a flood that bad has to affect the neighbors on both sides of that condo since they all share walls.

The water filtration system in the condo next door to us was leaking too, and it leaked into the walls and living room of our next-door neighbors home.

The water filtration system in our home was leaking into our living room too, and the condo on the far end of our complex had a leaky filtration system as well, but we don't know if it flooded into the home. We can confirm that 4 out of the 5 condos in our building have had leaking water filtration systems. Out of those 4 condos, at least 2 of them had water leak into the living room, and the one condo in the middle flooded throughout the entire downstairs from what we were told.

It can't be good in the long run to have water leaking into the walls of brand new condos that are barely a year old. We have to be worried about mold now!

On another note, my wife and I received a letter from Habitat today. Two and a half weeks ago (February 7th, 2011) my wife and I submitted another complaint letter to Habitat stating many of the problems we've encountered over the last year and a half. We've submitted many letters stating our concerns and our complaints, but it seemed like those complaints never got us anywhere, other than being demonized by the top 2 people in the organization.

Something changed today. The certified letter my wife and I received was an offer for Habitat to buy our home back from us. At the same time, the letter stated that the Executive Director of the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity has resigned. The Executive Director was the only paid position in the organization (other than a couple of employees at the Re-Store). For the Executive Director of the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity to resign over many of the complications listed above in this report proves that much of what we said is valid. I never thought she would resign over all of this, so my wife and I are just blown away at the news.

As for Habitat's offer to buy us out, that is another surprise. Not once have we ever gone to Habitat asking to leave or be bought out. All we ever asked was for Habitat to do what it said it would do (especially in consideration of what was written in all of Habitat's rules and regulations manuals). We asked Habitat to be honest, to provide us with the services they were charging us for, and to help provide us with a safe and comfortable place to live and raise our children.

Habitat still hasn't fully addressed our issues. Instead they just want to buy us out. Adding onto this that we received a letter stating the Executive Director has resigned is proof that there is a lot more to this story and a lot of validity in it.
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#9 Consumer Comment

More to the story

AUTHOR: Ramjet - (U.S.A.)

I am willing to bet that there is a LOT more to this story!

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#10 Consumer Comment

I had an HFH home once myself


Payson, I would be pleased to post on your website as I have posted here. I would like to tell my own story - but I'm still trying to figure out WHERE to begin! I found my local chapter to be very disorganized, and I would be so confused sometimes from the mixed communications. I found it hard to deal with the organization also because many of the employees would speak to me on a personal level instead of a business level - except when it suited them. I will admit that I became unemployed for an extended period of time and got behind. I had been let go from my job due to position elimination, and then a month later I was badly injured in a car accident and could not work for a long time. It was then that I realized that 'no interest' apparently means no disability or unemployment insurance to cover the payments. I contacted the E.D. at that time and asked if I should move out. I had two young children, no child support, and I did not want to be unexpectedly evicted. He told me that I would be granted forbearance on the loan, and I could start paying mortgage again when I became employed. Four months later when I said that I'd been to countless interviews, but had not landed a permanent position, he said, "You mean to tell me you haven't found a job YET???" I was taking temp assignments to pay my utility bills, and the long-term assignments never lasted because sooner or later I would have to call in sick, or take time off to attend physical therapy sessions. Again, I asked if I should move, and once again the E.D. said he'd get back to me. Then I got a notice calling the whole loan due. My mother offered to make two of the payments with her credit card if it would keep me in the house. I was told that they could not take credit card payments over the phone, so my mother bought a Greyhound bus ticket so that she could come and pay the amount in person. The E.D. assured us before she arrived that this would be sufficient. As soon as my mother left, I got another notice calling the loan due once again. I called and asked, what about the payments my mother had made? The E.D. said that he had met with the board AFTER receiving the payment, and this was not acceptable. But he had said beforehand that it WOULD be acceptable. I said, so you lied about that. He started yelling at me, saying that I should have a job by now, etc, etc. I told my mother what had happened, and she was very upset, saying that she could have used the money to send bus tickets for me and my children. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

In all honesty, I have been much happier since I sold that house and found a nice house to rent. The place I've been living in is MUCH bigger than the HFH house. I have had my current full time job for five years now, and I have never missed a month's rent. When something needs to be fixed, I can call the owner, who is very prompt and honors our lease agreement. I have only had to call the owner six times in the four years I've been here, and only two of those calls required having to wait for service calls from outside agencies. I can not begin to tell you the all the troubles I had with my HFH house - from day one!

For the record, about a month after I moved out of HFH house, I drove by and saw that my neighbor (also an HFH home owner) had moved out as well. I have known at least three other folks who closed on their houses and then vacated.

Perhaps there are folks whose home ownership worked out well. I was not one of them. I would like to let others know what they would be getting into with them before they decide to apply for and purchase a home. It's not just putting in sweat equity, making your monthly payments and keeping your yard cut. You can become temporarily disabled as I did, or you could wind up with costly repair and maintenance issues.

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#11 Author of original report

Something More I Want To Add To My Story!

AUTHOR: Me Who - (USA)

I wanted to add this to my original story. When that first bout of domestic violence happened in our Habitat specific condo complex (a female Habitat homeowner was beaten up while pregnant by her drug addict boyfriend - that single mom ran out of her home into our home, escaping the boyfriend, begging my wife to call 911), I emailed our local Habitat Chapter immediately. The Executive Director of the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity emailed me back thanking me for letting them know this domestic violence was happening in the complex. Her thanking led me to believe I could go to Habitat with these types of problems, and it also led me to believe Habitat wanted to know what was going on. During this same time frame, other problems were occuring, most notably the 5 year old boy who lived next door to us was out of control. He was being allowed to play outside unsupervised (even months later after all the drama, this boy is still sometimes outside by himself). The boy is destructive. He broke out the rear sliding glass door in his mom's home. He broke out both windows in his mom's car (seriously), and he cracked the window of another Habitat homeowner's SUV. The boy would race his bicycle, scooter, skateboard up and down the sidewalk regularly crashing into all of the homeowners vehicles. Other kids were racing their bicycles up and down the sidewalks too screaming and hollering, and I feared that my vehicle was going to be regularly damaged by all these unsupervised kids (plus the noise was overwhelming at times and the HOA was suppose to prevent this type of thing from happening). That 5 year old boy would also chase cars into the street, he'd ride his bike out by the street near traffic, all unsupervised. We feared for his safety! That boy would also throw temper tantrums. He'd regularly run out of his mom's house, jump on her car damaging the hood and roof (seriously). His mom would come out screaming at him. The boy would sometimes run into our home escaping his mom. It was a bad situation, and I didn't know how to deal with it. I emailed Habitat. In that email I was very specific about these issues. I also complained about some very specific HOA violations, and I asked Habitat what could be done to make the sidewalk in front of the homes off limits to bicycles, skateboards, etc. etc. In that email I told Habitat that I was trying to keep good relations with my neighbors, and I also mentioned that if I have a complaint, I will bring a solution to the table. After I emailed Habitat about these problems, Habitat never emailed me back. I waited a week or two, then emailed Habitat again. Maybe I should have called, but I prefer to communicate via email rather than phone calls. Once again Habitat never responded to our letter about the HOA problems. A few weeks later, our neighbor's boyfriend confronted my wife while I was at work. He told my wife that Habitat had called the mom next door in for a private meeting. Actually I don't think it was Habitat, but rather the Executive Director who did this on her own. The Executive Director never contacted me or my wife to discuss anything, but she called my neighbor into her office, and from what we were told, she read our PRIVATE emails to our neighbors. I feel this was done on purpose to ruin our reputations in the complex. I feel Habitat (or rather the Executive Director) did this to turn our neighbors against us. It worked because our neighbors definitely turned against us. It's amazing that moms who can't control their kids, moms who were bringing drug addict boyfriends into the Habitat complex, moms who were neglecting their kids were almost being praised or felt sorry for in a way that demonized us as bad people speaking out against our neighbors. Habitat failed to tell my neighbors that I wrote I was trying to keep good relations with my neighbors. My complaint here is that I emailed Habitat privately trying to find solutions to some very difficult problems. Instead of communicating with us to help us with those interpersonal neighbor dramas, Habitat violated our privacy and read our PRIVATE emails to Habitat directly to our neighbor. What makes it worse is that those emails were sent from my wife's email address with my wife's name attached to it, yet when Habitat read the emails to my neighbors, they said they came from me (the husband), not mentioning my wife at all (my name was nowhere on those emails as I have my own email address). It was obvious Habitat was trying to ruin my reputation since I was the one discovering all of these Habitat wrong doings. To give Habitat the benefit of the doubt, if Habitat didn't want to be involved in neighborly drama's (and I don't blame them if they didn't want to be), couldn't they have just said that they can't get involved at this point, and left it at that. The fact Habitat (the Executive Director) went so far out of her way to read our emails to our neighbors proves that she had a vendetta against us (me) (this is the same woman who filed the Injunction against me). What I am curious to know is whether Habitat violated a privacy clause by revealing private information like this. When we didn't pay the $73.13 of our mortgage out of protest for the HOA, Habitat disclosed that we weren't paying our mortgage in full to our neighbors too. How I know this is we had some drama with another neighbor over the fact she wasn't picking up her dog poop, while she was also leaving multiple (and I mean multiple) bags of trash sitting on her front porch for days on end (not taking the trash to the dumpster). We documented these issues with photos, and sent those photos to Habitat (it was a Habitat Executive Board Member who told us to take photos for documentation). That neighbor was livid that we were complaining and turning her in for all the dog poop (and when I say dog poop I mean every inch of her small backyard was covered in poop - there was no way her two small dogs could walk in the yard without stepping in their own poop - it was the type of yard you expect to see on Animal Cops) and all the trash. That neighbor sent a friend of hers into my store to tell me to quit harassing her. We never even once talked to her, so there was no harassment. We just told the President of our HOA about these issues, and the HOA Board told us to call Animal Control (which we did). Considering we hadn't had any verbal communication with this mom, the only harassment that occurred was her sending her male friend in to my store to tell me to stop harassing her. When that friend of the hers came in my store, he tried to discredit me by saying I wasn't even paying my mortgage. It's amazing how protesting a bad HOA, by not paying a $73.13 HOA fee (which with Habitat is part of your mortgage - and not a separate payment like most HOA's are) can be used against you in so many ways. Regardless, the only way that guy knew I hadn't paid my HOA fee was because Habitat was disclosing personal information about homeowners to other homeowners (that male friend and I had a good talk, and I think he was blown away to hear all I had to say, his demeanor towards me changed once we talked, and he even shook my hand as he left). The most ridiculous aspect of the dog poop story is that my wife and I did what HABITAT told us to do. We complained to the HOA first, but the Habitat employees controlling the HOA told us to call Animal Control. Animal Control left a notice forcing my neighbor to pick up her dog poop (and I can't stress enough how bad the yard was). The neighbor decided to get back at me by going down to the Police Station and filing a FALSE (and potentially illegal) Police Report against me claiming I entered her back yard and burglarized the inside of her home. She actually claimed I broke into her home and burglarized. Yes, local Bike Shop owner and Habitat homeowner breaks into other Habitat homeowners home - Story at 10! The truth is I never once entered that neighbors yard. She filed that false report out of spite, and I think this mom told Habitat I was harassing her (even though I had never once spoken with her in person), and I believe Habitat believed her, so to get back at me, and take up for the mom I think this is a big reason why the Executive Director filed that Injunction against me.

Habitat has been disclosing private info between us homeowners since day 1. Habitat has told my wife and I lots of things about our neighbors that we were better off not knowing. I have to say that I've learned a lot about my neighbors over the last year too, and I've been guilty of discussing those things with other people too. Even though I have been guilty of saying too much, I am a frustrated Habitat homeowner. I am not a non-profit organization operating by strict guidelines and policies (Habitat should strive to keep private information private without disclosing information that would potentially turn Habitat homeowner against Habitat homeowner). I am curious if this breach of privacy violates any kind of Privacy Policy within Habitat? What would Habitat have to gain by turning neighbor against neighbor like this? We complained to everyone within Habitat about the violation of our PRIVACY. Most people agreed it was wrong for the Executive Director to do this to us, but no one seemed to do anything about it. Even when we complained about these issues to the PRESIDENT of the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity, his response was this.........Habitat for Humanity is a mortgage company, we are like your bank. You do not go to your bank with your HOA or personal problems, so you shouldn't be coming to us with these issues too. Well now, maybe the PRESIDENT needs to re-read the HOA Manual because in the CC&R's it clearly states Habitat has control of the HOA til Phase 3 is finished. At the same time, Habitat hand picked all these families to live in this complex. They should d**n well know what's going on in hopes that Habitat could be a positive mediator. Considering the President, Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer of our HOA are all Habitat Board Members and Employees (not Habitat homeowners), it seems obvious Habitat has a lot of control and power within the HOA.

My two cents is that Habitat thought they were creating a paradise when they came up with the idea to build these 14 condos. These 14 condos are Ground Zero in our community. They exist at the busiest neighborhood intersection in our town. Once Habitat had 9 families living in this complex it became evident that putting 9 Habitat homeowners into tight living conditions proved to be more dramatic than ever thought possible. Habitat probably never thought the complex would have the legal problems it has had with the domestic violence, drug addict boyfriends, arrests, child neglect, animal neglect, dog bites, etc. etc (not to mention the overwhelming amount of HOA violations). Habitat really has no clue how to deal with all of this. I feel their little Habitat paradise has gone downhill almost immediately. One Habitat volunteer and Board Member told me personally that this condo complex is proving to be a bad idea, and that Habitat was a lot better off building site built homes in various neighborhoods. I agree with that volunteer. I am compassionate towards Habitat having a good idea when the condo complex first came about, but now that the condo complex is 2/3rds occupied, and now that there have been so many problems in the first year, why would Habitat react to these issues by playing sides, turning neighbor against neighbor, and playing good cop/bad cop. I guess it proves an organization like Habitat, with such a good business model, is only as good as the people who are running it, and that's why I would like to see the immediate resignation of those top 3 people within the Payson Area Habitat that I mentioned before. Our local Habitat use to be run by a local church pastor. We need a guy like that to come back in and clean this organization up.

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