A nice break in the recent rainy weather in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia offered perfect timing for a Self-Help Build day. The event which was held September 29, 2010, has become an annual occurrence during which volunteers gather to help families build their homes.
The event was sponsored by Telemon Corporation, a non-profit corporation who participates in the USDA Rural Development Section 523 Self-Help Housing program. Under the direction of Telamon Corporation, families work together to build their own homes. Over the past decade, Telamon has helped 70 families become homeowners through the Self-Help program.
“This is a great opportunity for our employees to get out, roll up their sleeves, grab a hammer & nails and experience a little of what the families experience when they commit to build their own homes,” stated Bobby Lewis, West Virginia USDA Rural Development State Director. The Self-Help program is a unique feature of USDA Rural Development’s direct housing loan program in which families provide approximately 65 percent of the construction labor to build their homes, in groups. The saved labor costs, deemed “sweat equity,” helps families qualify for loans.
As the build day progresses, a box of nails, a pile of lumber and a stack of sheathing are transformed into exterior walls–all representative of a day of hard work. The four walls are lifted and brought together, symbolic of the community spirit and the many partnerships forged with the USDA Rural Development Self-Help Housing program. A real sense of accomplishment is shared amongst the group.