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Find out the answers to our most frequently asked questions.


Welcome to the Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco FAQ page. This page is intended to provide you with answers to a variety of frequently asked questions. This resource was created by the Habitat staff to provide you with information on some of the questions we get asked most.


If you can't find the answer you are looking for, please ask us


Want to find answers quicker? Click one of the buttons below to get to the section you need.


Gen_faq.jpg  vol_faq.jpg ownahome_faq.jpg  cars_faq.jpg

General FAQ

1) What is your connection to Habitat for Humanity International?

Habitat for Humanity is an international organization that seeks to eliminate poverty housing from the world and make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat Greater San Francisco is an independently-funded local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Donations to Habitat for Humanity International fund housing programs overseas while donations to Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco fund housing programs right here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

2) How is Jimmy Carter involved with Habitat for Humanity?

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are our most famous volunteers! Their involvement with Habitat for Humanity began in 1984 when the former president and first lady led a work group to New York City. Ever since, both Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter give a week of their time each year to build homes and raise awareness of the critical need for affordable housing.

3) How does the Habitat for Humanity program work?

Habitat for Humanity builds affordable homes through volunteer labor, the "sweat equity" of our partner families, and donations of money and materials. Habitat homes are sold to partner families at no profit and are financed with zero-interest loans. We also provide critical home repair services to low-income, long-time homeowners, community facility repairs and renovations, and park beautifications and garden events through our Neighborhood Revitalization program.

4) What is the cost of a Habitat home?

Because of donated land and volunteer labor, we are able to reduce the cost of building our homes. Our construction costs are additionally offset by in-kind donations. Many companies generously donate equipment and services to us. The cost of the home depends on the area and the type of homes we are building.

5) How does Habitat Greater San Francisco obtain the land?

Sometimes land is donated to Habitat and other times, Habitat must purchase the land on the open market. Whenever we can, we look for opportunities to purchase at below-market rates to keep costs to our homeowners as low as possible.

6) Are your homes green?

Yes! Habitat Greater San Francisco homes are constructed with sustainability in mind. Our homes incorporate a variety of green features including engineered lumber, energy efficient fixtures and appliances, low-VOC paints and drought-tolerant landscaping. Through the generous support of PG&E and GRID Alternatives, all of our new homes are equipped with solar panels. These solar energy systems significantly reduce homeowners' utility costs while reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.

7) Who are the Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco partner families?

Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco works with an underserved community in Marin, San Francisco and the Peninsula. Families purchasing a home through Habitat typically make between 40 and 60% of the area median income (but can make up to 80 or 90% depending on the development and requirements of our partners). In order to partner with Habitat, families must meet income guidelines, have the ability to repay a mortgage, demonstrate a need for housing and complete up to 500 hours of sweat equity building their own home and the homes of their neighbors.

Support Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco!


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Volunteer FAQ

1) I’ve never held a hammer in my life; can I still work onsite?

We welcome volunteers of all skill levels and we provide all the training you will need! No experience is required to volunteer with us. Plan on getting a good night's sleep and eating a full breakfast before your day on site.

2) How old do I have to be to work onsite?

At our construction sites, building blocks, and home and community facility repairs: Volunteers must be at least 16 years old to work at any of our construction sites, and at least 18 to work on roofs, scaffolding or use power tools. Minors must be accompanied by a chaperone. All volunteers under 18 must arrive onsite with a waiver signed by their parent or legal guardian.

At our ReStore: Volunteers must be at least 16 years old to work at our ReStore and each minor (under age 18) must be accompanied by a chaperone (over age 21). All volunteers under 18 must arrive onsite with a waiver signed by their parent or legal guardian.

At our park and community garden beautifications: Volunteers must be at least 14 years old to work at our park beautifications. Minors must be accompanied by a chaperone. All volunteers under 18 must arrive onsite with a waiver signed by their parent or legal guardian.

3) What days can I volunteer?

Our available volunteer days vary, depending on our current projects. Check the volunteer calendar for available dates.

4) How do I sign up to volunteer as an individual?

Please visit our volunteer calendar, select the volunteer shift on the date in which you are interested, and click on the orange “sign up” button at the bottom of the shift description.

5) How do I sign up a group?

Please visit our volunteer as a group page for more information.

6) How far in advance do I need to schedule a group build day?

We try to post volunteer opportunities at least three months out. The sooner you book your group reservation, the better.

7) What is the maximum group size I can book?

Home Repair Maximum: 5
ReStore Maximum: 15
Park and Garden Events Maximum: 20
Community Facility Repair Maximum: 20
Building Blocks Events Maximum: 20

8) Can I come late / leave early?

No. We count on all volunteers to commit to their full shift.

9) How should I prepare for my shift?

Dress for the weather in clothing you don’t mind getting dirty/ruined, and sturdy, closed-toed footwear. Bring a water bottle. Bring a lunch if you are working a full-day shift since lunch is not provided.

10) Should I bring tools or equipment?

No. We provide all tools and equipment.

11) It's raining! What do I do?

We work rain or shine. If you are unsure due to severe weather, please call our rain line (San Francisco: 415-919-4069; East Palo Alto: 415-919-4068) after 7:00 am on your volunteer day. If you are volunteering at the ReStore, the rain will not affect your volunteer shift.

12) Is there parking available for volunteers?

Parking may be limited so beware of posted rules. Carpool or take public transit if possible.

13) I have to cancel! What do I do?

Please check the confirmation email you received when you signed up. It includes a cancelation link.

14) Are there other ways to volunteer that aren’t on the volunteer calendar?

Yes. We could use the help of those with specialized skillsets. We are often in need of office volunteers who have administrative, data entry, and/or customer service skills. At the ReStore, we could use extra help from those with administrative, research/marketing, retail operations, and/or photography skills. If you have a special skillset that you would like to provide volunteer help with, please reach out to us at volunteer@habitatgsf.org.

15) Can my volunteer service hours count toward school or traffic tickets?

After you volunteer, please email us at volunteer@habitatgsf.org asking for your hours to be verified and we will happily send you a confirmation letter. If there is a specific form that you need us to fill out, just send it our way. Thanks for volunteering!

16) How can I give my feedback?

We always welcome feedback. Please call us at 415-625-1029 or email us at volunteer@habitatgsf.org with any questions, concerns, or advice you may have about your volunteer experience.

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Own a Home FAQ

1) Do you have a waitlist?

No, there is no waitlist.

2) When is the next application meeting?

Applications occur when homes are available. Please fill out this online intake form to stay connected with us.

3) What is a "first-time homebuyer"?

"First-time homebuyer" means the applicant/co-applicant has not owned a home within the past three years. The period shall be counted backwards from the application date for the Habitat home.

4) What is sweat equity?

"Sweat equity" refers to the homeowners' hands-on involvement in building Habitat homes and volunteering at other Habitat Greater San Francisco programs. It is essential that the applicant understand sweat equity expectations. Up to 500 sweat equity hours are required by each applicant household. An unwillingness to participate in sweat equity is a legitimate reason for disqualification.

5) Can I rent a home from Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco?

No, Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco only offers homeownership opportunities. We do not offer rental, transitional or emergency housing.

6) Can I rent my house?

No, the homeownership program requires that homeowners live in the house they buy. Renting out a single room is also prohibited.

7) Can I sell my house?

Yes, but homeowners must sell their homes to Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco.

8) How much do the houses cost?

We price our homes affordably for households within the 40-80% area median income (AMI) range.

9) How long does the process take?

The homeownership process varies in length. It is usually at least one year from time of application to move-in.

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Cars for Homes FAQ

1) What kind of vehicles can be donated?

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Motorcycles
  • Recreational vehicles
  • Snowmobiles
  • Farm equipment
  • Construction equipment
  • Boats
  • Airplanes
Donate my car now.

2) How do I start the vehicle donation process?

  1. Call toll-free at 1-877-277-4344 or make your boat, truck, RV or car donation online

  2. Provide the following information about the vehicle you wish to donate 

    • Make

    • Model

    • Vehicle identification number (VIN)

    • Current mileage

  3. Most vehicles with proper title information are accepted, unless the costs of processing and towing fees exceed the auction value of the vehicle. 

3) What if the vehicle is not running?

  • Cars for Homes™ accepts any vehicle as long as it is whole and has four inflated tires (so it can be moved by our towing operators).
  • In rare cases, Cars for Homes™ may be unable to accept a vehicle if the cost of transport and processing fees would exceed the auction value of the vehicle.
Donate my car now.

4) What happens after my vehicle is accepted?

  1. You will be given instructions for processing the vehicle's title. If the title cannot be located, assistance is available.
  2. Your donated car is then assigned for pickup and sale.
  3. Arrangements are then made to have the title processed.
  4. You will be contacted to coordinate the vehicle and key pickup by a licensed and insured member of the national network of contractors who work for Advanced Remarketing Services, Habitat for Humanity's authorized agent.
Donate my car now.

5) What happens after my vehicle is picked up?

  • Your vehicle will be sold through a national network of diverse venues on behalf of Habitat for Humanity.
  • After the car has been sold, you will receive an acknowledgement letter thanking you for your support and providing the vehicle sale information. This letter may be used as a receipt for tax deduction purposes; additional tax documents will be provided when required by IRS regulations as a result of the sale value of the vehicle.
Donate my car now.

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