-by Julie Appliegate – St. George News
ST. GEORGE – Five more families are needed for a program that will help them achieve the dream of home ownership through sweat equity.
A program administered by the nonprofit Self-Help Homes allows families who can’t qualify for a traditional mortgage to work together with other families to build each other’s homes – and at the same time build a close-knit community.
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.
Four families are ready to go and will close on their building lots and construction loans in early June, Bishop said. However, more lots are available if more families can be found.
“We have done building groups the size of four or up to as many as 11 families building each other’s homes,” Bishop said.
“The construction time typically goes a little faster with more families, but the four families we have now we feel will really work well together.”
Self-Help Homes has five lots available – two in the Almond Heights subdivision in Toquerville and three lots in the Chateau at Riverwoods Estates plat II subdivision in LaVerkin.
Self-Help Homes is a nonprofit charitable organization based in Provo administering a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture 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 and work 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.