P.O. Box 1000, Chicago, IL 30100
Home Ownership
The Volunteer Network provides a unique opportunity for hardworking families to build and buy their own homes. Our houses are sold at no profit to our homeowner families, with a 0% down payment for closing costs and a 0%-interest mortgage (0% APR). Families are responsible for a closing fee of around $2,000. The mortgage lengths vary depending on income; the Volunteer Network adjusts the length of the mortgage so that the monthly mortgage payment (which includes taxes, insurance, and condo fees, if applicable) is no more than 30% of the homeowner’s gross monthly income at the time of sale. The Volunteer Network homeowner mortgage payments are put into a revolving fund that helps pay for construction of future houses in the Chicago Area community.
To qualify as a Chicago Area Volunteer Network prospective homeowner, families are selected based on:
Families are considered for our homeownership program if their present housing is inadequate, and they are not able to obtain adequate housing through other conventional means.
Lack of adequate housing may include problems with the present structure, water, electrical, sewage system, heating/cooling, hazardous substances, or failure to meet city property maintenance standards. Housing may also be considered inadequate if families live in an overcrowed, unaffordable, or transitional situation.
Families must demonstrate the ability to pay a monthly mortgage on the home they are purchasing. The applicant must have a minimum of 2 years of continuous and documented income that is sufficient to comfortably make monthly mortgage payments.
The monthly mortgage payment includes principal and escrow payments to pay annual property taxes and homeowners insurance. The monthly mortgage also includes payments for a roof repair reserve and ground lease and maintenance fees.
Monthly mortgage payments cannot exceed 30% of the applicant’s gross monthly income.
Willingness to Partner is the families’ willingness to complete the required sweat equity hours working on their own and other Volunteer Network homes and attending the required workshops and events.
"Sweat Equity" may include activities such as clearing the lot, painting, helping with construction, working the Volunteer Network office, or other approved activities.
Applicants must also fulfill the following additional requirements for acceptance into the Volunteer Network home ownership program:
Have lived or worked in Chicago, Naperville, Oak Lawn, Schaumburg, Orland Park or Aurora for at least the past 12 months.
Be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident.
Be able to pass a criminal background check.
Be a first-time homebuyer, meaning the applicant has not owned a home in at least the past 3 years.
Step 1 - Review
Review the Qualifications and determine if you meet all of them.
Step 2 - Pre-application
If you meet all of the program’s qualifications, then submit an online pre-application to the Volunteer Network. Alternatively, you may submit a hardcopy pre-application at the Volunteer Network administrative office in Chicago, Illinois. The pre-application will place you on our email list for an invitation to the next Orientation. Please remember to include an active email address in the pre-application.
Step 3 - Orientation
You will receive an invitation to the next orientation where you will receive detailed information about the Volunteer Network and the homeownership program. You will have the opportunity to have your questions answered by Volunteer Network staff and volunteers. If you are ready to apply, you will be provided an application to complete and return with the necessary documentation.
Step 4 - File Review
The Family Selection Committee will meet to review the application, credit report, and criminal background check to determine eligibility.
Step 5 - Home Visit
The Family Selection Committee will visit the homes of those families whose applications passed the file review to validate whether or not the family has a current housing need.
Step 6 - Approval
If the home visit validates the need for housing, the family is approved and invited to the New Prospective Homeowner Orientation. After the Orientation, the family may begin completing their required sweat equity hours.
Submit your homeowner pre-application