Havre Daily News
About 15 applications have been received for the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program that allows families to build their own house with the help of their neighbors and professionals.
About 20 people attended last week's meeting about the program at the District IV Human Resources Development Council office, said HRDC's interim executive director, Diane Savasten Getten. Some had already filled out their applications prior to the meeting and some picked up the paperwork at the meeting.
From the applications, eight will be chosen by USDA Rural Development, which pays for the program, she said.
“If that works, then we can build more,” Savasten Getten said.
The plan is to have another eight houses built next year.
Construction of the houses is set to begin in April. The move-in date is expected to be in October, Savasten Getten said.
Applications will be accepted until USDA fills the eight slots, she said.
The location of the housing will be south of 14th Street between Monroe and Jefferson avenues, Savasten Getten said. A new street, 14th Place, will be paved.
HRDC is in the process of purchasing the land, she said. The cost of the plot will be worked into the new homeowners' loans.
The Self-Help Housing program helps people become homeowners by making houses affordable through “sweat equity.” The participants in the program build about 65 percent of their home with the help of a construction supervisor and their neighbors. Their labor counts as the down payment and can reduce the cost of the home by 25 percent.
“It's affordable housing for working families,” Savasten Getten said.
Each family must dedicate at least 35 hours a week for the duration of construction, which usually takes about six months. Knowledge of construction is not required. According to a USDA Rural Development brochure, “You will learn the skills as you build.”
The homes are built simultaneously and the families can't move into their home until the whole neighborhood is complete. Plumbers and electricians are used in the two- and three-bedroom, single-bath designs, but the majority of the work is done by the families.
To be a part of the program, applicants must not own a home, must meet USDA Rural Development loan qualifications regarding good credit and allowable debts and meet income requirements. To qualify, applicants must earn no more than 80 percent of the area's median income. For Hill County this means an annual income of $26,000 for a one-person household, up to $54,000 for a 10-person household.
In the end, the new homeowner takes out a loan for the cost of the house, minus the labor.