-by Julie Applegate – St George News
ST. GEORGE — A nonprofit organization is looking for families who would like to own their own home, but can’t qualify for a traditional mortgage. Low-interest loans are available, but lots of sweat equity is required.
families develop camaraderie with other families and form a solid community foundation
By contributing much of the labor required to build a home, families can qualify for a low-interest loan through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program administered by Self-Help Homes. In addition to getting a new home, families develop camaraderie with other families and form a solid community foundation.
Self-Help Homes is currently looking for at least six families to build on lots in Toquerville and LaVerkin, Self-Help Homes Executive Director Brad Bishop said. Loan closing is expected to happen by May 2016, with construction to follow.
“All the stars are lining up and we’re moving forward,” Bishop said.
Another 16 lots in the Toquerville and LaVerkin area are under contract, and more are being looked at, he said.
“Our hope, in the long run, is to do as many as two to three groups a year based on demand,” Bishop said. Generally, groups of six to eight families build homes at one time.
Self-Help Homes is a nonprofit charitable organization based in Provo administering a program sponsored by the USDA to help low-income families realize the dream of home ownership, Bishop said.
The self-help program aims to help low-income families join other families to build a group of homes together.To qualify, participants must meet income and other qualifications, including earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income.
Program participants must contribute at least 30 hours each week, working together to build both their own and their neighbors’ homes, to qualify for the USDA low-interest loan.
Families provide 65 to 70 percent of the labor required to build a home, working nights and weekends, a total of more than 1,200 hours.
The USDA provides grants for technical help with finding property, locating a group of families and providing a construction supervisor, Debbie Cook, a self-help loan specialist for USDA Rural Development, said in an earlier interview.
Self-Help Homes has taken over the mutual self-help housing program from the Five County Association of Governments in Southern Utah, which ran the program on a temporary basis from late 2013 until last year, Five County Executive Director Bryan Thiriot said in an earlier interview.
The Five County board chose not to renew the grant application because they felt a nonprofit agency could better administer the program and potentially expand it into Beaver, Iron, Garfield and Kane counties, Thiriot said.
Self-Help Homes has been in operation since 2000, helping families build 383 homes so far in Utah communities, Bishop said, including Heber City, Provo, Elk Ridge, Payson, Spanish Fork, Santaquin and Toquerville. Four homes were built in Toquerville last year.
- Families interested in applying for the project can contact Karen at Self-Help Homes at 801-375-2205 ext. 103
- For more information and to download application forms, see the Self-Help Homes website
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