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Self-Help Housing Marks 50 Years and 50,000 Homes

Residents work together to construct a new home

Photo by Self-Help Enterprises

This year marks the 50th anniversary of USDA Rural Development’s (RD) Mutual Self-Help Housing Program. Self-help housing – in which the future homeowners provide “sweat equity” by working together to build their own and others’ homes – provides a mechanism to create homes in rural areas where robust housing development capacity may not exist, and to provide homeownership opportunities to people who would not otherwise qualify.

Through the USDA RD Mutual Self-Help program, rural organizations receive grant funds to supervise groups of low- and very low-income individuals who work cooperatively to build homes. As of 2015, the program has produced 50,000 homes, empowering rural American families to achieve the dream of affordable homeownership. Following are some resources to find out more about how the program works and how to get involved.

  • USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez posted a recent blog entry about the program, its history and its successes.
  • USDA’s “Program 101” provides information on eligibility, application contacts and use of funds.
  • Nonprofit organizations and federally recognized tribes are eligible to apply for Mutual Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance Grants on a rolling basis through their local USDA Rural Development offices.
  • Rural Community Assistance Council includes an extensive list of self-help housing resources on its website, including training guides for boards and coordinators.
  • Self-Help Enterprises, a CDC serving California’s San Joaquin Valley, keeps a blog with success stories that illustrate how self-help housing makes an impact on communities, families and individuals.
  • The National Self-Help Housing Conference will celebrate the “50/50” milestone in San Antonio July 21-13.

Posted in Rural Community Development

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