Written by Dawn Knepp, Pennsylvania USDA Public Information Officer
In a small, quaint housing development in south-central Pennsylvania, families are realizing the American dream of homeownership with the help of a unique government program. USDA Rural Development’s Self-Help Housing Program provides mortgage financing to the homeowner and a technical assistance grant to a non-profit agency, in this case, Interfaith Housing Alliance. Interfaith supervises the homeowners who do much of the building of their own homes. To date, 20 families have completed homes and moved into the 39 lot development.
Families involved in the Rural Development Self Help Program work side by side with their future neighbors to build their homes and a new community. They work in groups—typically made up of five or six families—and complete more than 65 percent of the construction labor on each other’s homes. Each family volunteers a minimum of 30 hours per week to carry out construction activities such as framing, roofing, painting, finish work, and landscaping. The mortgages, with structured, affordable payments are administered through USDA Rural Development’s Direct Home Loan Program.
On June 29, in recognition of National Homeownership Month, a group of Pennsylvania Rural Development employees made the trek to the development to volunteer their time to work on a new split-level home, assisting with framing and other work.