Habitat for Humanity Chicago is proud to announce the launch of our new program, Homebuyer University, coming this July. It's no surprise: homeownership comes with a myriad of benefits, such as higher discretionary income and improved education outcomes, for individuals, families and communities. Homebuyer University is open to the public and will equip its participants with a personalized game plan to enter the homebuying process with confidence. Here is everything you need to know about our newest initiative to create more successful homeowners in the city of Chicago.


What is unique about the Homebuyer University curriculum?

The Homebuyer University curriculum consists of eight sessions, with each class building on top of the ones prior, ranging in topics from financial education and planning, to preparation for the loan application and homebuying process, to the holistic civic responsibilities of homeownership. Students will set their own homeownership goals during an early session and will track these goals all the way through the program. During the final class, students will meet 1-on-1 with a financial adviser to finalize their personalized action plans. Students will leave the program either ready to begin their journey of buying a home or with an actionable and sustainable plan to get there.


Throughout the program, students will have access to third party financial support and readiness resources approved by Habitat Chicago. For example, if a student determines she needs extra support to improve her credit, she will be referred to one of our partner organizations that provides free credit counseling. If a student determines he needs to increase his income in order to be prepared for homeownership, he will be referred to a partner organization that provides employment assistance. Students will have the opportunity to immediately set up appointments with our partner organizations so that they can move quickly to prepare for the loan application and homebuying process as soon as they complete the Homebuyer University courses.


What will be Homebuyer University’s long-term impact?

Research shows the positive impact of homeownership for both households and neighborhoods. Homeowners living in high-quality affordable housing experience less health issues and are more likely to be involved in community-based civic engagements. In 2013, the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University reported that compared to renters within the same income bracket, homeowners on average live four times as long in the same community, are 10% more likely to report that they worked to solve local problems, and are 15% more likely to vote. Homeownership also has been proven to play a key role in wealth and economic mobility; over the past decade the average wealth of a home-owning American family was between 31 and 46 times more than that of a renting family.


Homebuyer University will work to create a more stable, less economically-divided Chicago by increasing the number of well-prepared homebuyers throughout the city. Currently, Habitat Chicago is able to build on average six affordable homes per year for low-to-moderate income Chicagoans. The goal of Homebuyer University is to significantly increase this annual impact by providing an additional 20-40 Chicagoans with the educational and financial resources needed to become successful homeowners during each Homebuyer University course series. We plan to host one Homebuyer University series in 2019 and two per year starting in 2020 – that’s 40-60 families set up for successful homeownership each year!


How did Homebuyer University come to be?

Homebuyer University was born from the recognition that Habitat Chicago can efficiently and effectively bring our network of partners together to help more people understand and navigate the home buying process from start to finish, no matter where they are in their journeys to homeownership. While enrolled in Homebuyer University, students will learn from experts in the financial and real estate fields and have the opportunity to plan with these experts in an approachable classroom setting, gaining knowledge, skills and confidence along the way.


How was Homebuyer University made possible?

Habitat Chicago is collaborating with a multitude of our current partners to make Homebuyer University a reality. We would like to especially thank BMO Harris Bank, Wells Fargo, Advanced Group and the Habitat Chicago Emerging Leaders Board for their contributions to fund the pilot. We are also thrilled to collaborate with other non-profit organizations as service and referral partners.

By partnering with financial and real estate institutions in the Chicago area, we are able to provide Homebuyer University students with valuable insights into the financial world and foster skills that will benefit them not only on their journeys to homeownership, but throughout their lives as homeowners. Our partners will play a major role in the success of the program and will directly contribute to the increased number of qualified homebuyers in Chicago. These partners are working with Habitat Chicago not only to instruct and advise students, but also to help develop and improve the program's curriculum.


You can support the launch of Homebuyer University by attending an upcoming Emerging Leaders Board event - a portion of each Emerging Leaders Board event ticket will be donated to Habitat Chicago to directly fund Homebuyer University. 


Sign up for our newsletter for the latest news and opportunities to get involved!