Habitat’s approach to affordable housing also improves neighborhoods and communities. Habitat for Humanity’s program strengthens community spirit, increases the tax base, and builds better citizens through the cooperative efforts involved in Habitat construction. Habitat for Humanity is not a charity or a give-away program. Partner family homebuyers make a 2% down payment and monthly mortgage payments to Habitat. They also invest 350 to 450 hours of their own labor into building their own houses, the houses of others, and they attend homeowner education courses. As Habitat homeowners pay their mortgages, the money is used to help build houses with other partner families. HFHCI chooses partner families based on their need for adequate housing, ability to pay, and willingness to partner. The typical Habitat house has 1,050 square feet of living area plus an unfinished basement. Most houses have three bedrooms. They do not have garages, air conditioning, dishwashers, or other “extras” unless a partnership with another organization requires them. Habitat houses are not extravagant by any standard; however, any newly built house is going to be a dramatic change for a family that has been living with a housing problem. Habitat’s philosophy is to build simple, decent homes.