Meet Future Homeowner Tracy Ross

[Blog by Sophia Williams, Development Associate, Special Events & Marketing]

Tracy Ross has always wanted to own a home, but with the high interest and down payments of a traditional mortgage, this seemed out of reach. On Wednesday, June 29 that dream will become a reality and Tracy will close on her Habitat home, 1240 Rambling Rd. in Ypsilanti. Tracy’s persistent personality has shown that with the right determination, anything is possible. She currently commutes by train from her home in Detroit to her job in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. Her dream of homeownership stemmed from when she was raising her three daughters in Detroit.

“We lived in several different situations… we were homeless at one point, lived in a vacant house. We had a lot of different challenges,” said Tracy.

She doesn’t have to worry about these stresses any longer. With the stability that homeownership brings, Tracy hopes to give her five grandchildren (and one on the way!) more opportunity to thrive. She plans to put a swing set in the backyard for them to play when come to visit their MeMaw (the name they call Tracy instead of grandma). Tracy wants to be an example to her daughters and grandchildren by showing them there are no limits to their future successes.

“They really are a big focus in my life, just based on the things I didn’t have or see growing up,” said Tracy.


Tracy’s drive comes from the desire to provide her family with more. Even though she is the only one that will be living in her Habitat home, she has still included them throughout the renovation process. Tracy’s mother suffers from dementia, and when choosing her kitchen counter tops Tracy chose red, her mother’s favorite color. She wanted her to be a part of the home, and was hoping to put a smile on her mother’s face. Every Habitat homeowner is a part of the renovation process, and is required to put in 250 hours of sweat equity. These hours of sweat equity will remind Tracy of the hard work she put in to become a homeowner, and will give her a strong sense of pride and connection to her home.

“I can walk past those kitchen counters and know I put them in. The sweat equity hours allowed me to put in my own man power and educated me on how to fix things myself,” said Tracy. “It is a very powerful feeling.”

Tracy expressed how thankful she is to be to moving into her Habitat home, “This is truly life changing… I am grateful to each and every person for their part in helping,” said Tracy.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of the renovation of Tracy’s soon-to-be home! A special thank you to the Knight Foundation for being the lead sponsor of this home, the 2016 Women Build, and all of the other Women Build partners. Without our supporters, volunteers, sponsors, and partners this wouldn’t be possible. THANK YOU!


What is Sweat Equity?

[Blog by Sophia Williams, Development Associate, Special Events & Marketing]

Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley partners with families to build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. Each future homeowner is required to complete 250 hours of ‘sweat equity’ before closing on his or her home. ‘Sweat equity’ is the term we use for the time that families invest in: renovating homes, working on exterior projects, volunteering at the Habitat Restore, attending financial wellness classes, and any volunteer hour that helps the overall mission of Habitat. Some Home Improvement Programs also require families to put in sweat equity hours.

Future homeowners work hard to renovate their future homes and neighboring Habitat homes alongside volunteers and staff. By completing sweat equity, families become an integral part of the renovation process of their soon-to-be home. Our families are committed to improving their lives through homeownership and work closely with us to achieve their dreams of homeownership. Through shelter, we empower.

“It’s about doing the work — the hard work — to bring an idea to life… That work becomes an investment in the project. It can be an investment as real as money or land.” (HFHI)

There are three important goals that sweat equity is designed to meet:

Partnership. Sweat equity provides meaningful interaction among families, Habitat staff, volunteers, sponsors/donors and community members. By volunteering alongside our families our supporters get to know them and the families get to know our supporters. Future homeowners become part of the community before they have even moved in.

Pride in Homeownership. Sweat equity hours worked on their home allows families to feel proud of their long-term investment in homeownership. Their own hard work is seen every day in their home, reminding them of what it took them to get there.

Development of Skills and Knowledge. Family members learn more about the maintenance and upkeep of their home as they work alongside volunteers. By working on their soon to be home, homeowners become more confident in their handy skills and are more prepared to take on the responsibility of homeownership.

Habitat Helps Homeowner Carol Colby Alleviate the Financial Strain of Home Repairs

[Blog by Sophia Williams, Development Associate, Special Events & Marketing]

Carol and her late husband married and bought their home in 1964. After he passed away two years ago, Carol found herself taking on the responsibility of homeownership alone. She reached out to Habitat for help alleviating the pressures of homeownership as a single widow.

At that time, Carol’s water heater was 28 years old and her furnace 37 years old. A water heater is expected to last anywhere from 8 to 10 years, and a gas furnace up to 20 years. Carol’s were well over this expectancy!

Habitat helped her with the financial burden of replacing her old, unsafe and inefficient furnace and water heater through the Furnace Test & Tune Program. This program provides safe, energy saving furnaces and water heaters to qualified participants at a cost that is much lower than buying these appliances conventionally. In addition to partnering with Habitat to complete eight hours of sweat equity, recipients agree to payments which range from $30-$50 per month (at 0% interest for a term of two or four years, depending on which units are replaced). Generally homeowners see savings in their monthly energy bills which offsets the amount of the payment… and then some! In Carol’s case her energy bill came down significantly.

“About $70 a month, that’s a sizeable amount,” said Carol, whose bill had decreased by 1/3. “I’ve had to turn the water down because it was too hot… that’s a great feeling though.”

Carol also received an energy efficient refrigerator through our free Refrigerator Replacement Program contributing even more to the energy savings she has seen in her bill. For a lot of homeowners, repairs can be a huge expense that they cannot accommodate while still making payments on their home.

“I am just very grateful that Habitat was there for me,” said Carol. “I had heard of Habitat before, but I thought it was just building houses. Now I realize there’s a lot more.”

Carol is enjoying her repairs without the financial strain that she would have had without Habitat’s help.

Click here to learn more about our Furnace Test & Tune Program and our Refrigerator Replacement Program!