In a small, quaint housing development in south-central Pennsylvania, families are constructing new homes with the help of a unique government program. USDA Rural Development’s Self-Help Housing Program provides mortgage financing to homeowners 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. On June 24th, another six homeowners moved into the 39-lot subdivision.
New homeowner Latia Reed considers the program a gift to her family. She credits her son as her inspiration and strength, and the reason she wanted to accomplish the goal of homeownership. Although the work load was heavy, Reed feels the project was one of the greatest experiences of her life time.
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.
This summer, the final six homeowners will begin building to complete the subdivision. Each team can take between nine and 12 months to finish building.