Havre Daily News
Local residents who would like to become homeowners will have a chance next week to learn more about a federal housing program that allows groups of families to work together to build a neighborhood of homes.
The USDA Rural Development Self-Help Housing program provides federal loans and expert training to families who meet income and credit-check requirements.
District IV Human Resources Development Council will hold a meeting next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in HRDC's activity room to explain the program, the agency's interim executive director, Diane Savasten Getten, said Tuesday.
HRDC has received about a dozen applications for the program so far and hopes to have more, she said. Savasten Getten said she plans to have eight homes built this year and another eight next year. She said HRDC is still working out the location for the homes, and will probably have the details finalized by next week's meeting.
Havre's housing stock is old, and single-family homes that many working families can afford have not been built in Havre in the last three decades, though rental options are available, she said.
The USDA program will help solve some of the problem, she said.
“It's affordable housing for working families,” Savasten Getten said.
To qualify, applicants must not own a home, must meet loan qualifications and earn at or below 80 percent of the area median income, according to USDA Rural Development.
Families participating in the program work between 30 and 35 hours a week to build each of the homes together. Neighborhoods typically take a minimum of six months to complete, according to USDA Rural Development.
After the homes' foundations are built, federal money is used to pay for a professional construction supervisor to work full time on the project. The supervisor trains the families on construction techniques, orders supplies and materials, and ensures the homes are built according to code, according to Rural Development.
The homes, which consist of basic two- or three-bedroom, single-bath designs, are built in phases, with all of the families working on a few of the houses at a time. Plumbers and electricians are brought in to handle those areas of construction, but the majority of the work is done by the families. After all of the homes in the neighborhood are completed, the families can move in.
In the end, the new homeowner takes out a loan for the cost of the house, minus the labor.
To learn more about the program, attend the meeting or contact HRDC at 265-6743.