26 Years Since Building Their Home with SHE

26 Years Since Building Their Home with SHE

Posted on October 29, 2021

It’s been over 25 years since Martha built her home through SHE’s Mutual Self-Help Housing Program in Dinuba. Before learning about SHE, Martha, back then a single mom of three young children, struggled tremendously to find adequate housing. After a divorce, Martha was left homeless. She and her children spent an entire year living in her car, a root beer brown 52’ Chevy Bomb. “I’d park at Ledbetter Park in Cutler, where we would spend the night,” said Martha. “Sometimes, I didn’t know if we would have enough money to eat.”

Determined to improve her life and her children’s lives, Martha continued to work. She worked at the local school, while unbeknownst to many, she lacked shelter.  “I had a tia who would let me shower and get ready for work and get my kids ready for school.” Luckily, she secured Section 8 housing but still struggled to make ends meet.

Martha first learned about SHE back in 1994 through Community Services Employment Training (CSET) where she worked for a bit. Martha reached out to SHE with high hopes of getting approved for a home. After a year of waiting and processing her application, she got the green light to participate in the program. “My oldest son was a teenager at the time and helped pour the foundation of our home. That was a very exciting and proud moment.”

When asked if owning a home impacted her life, Martha responded:

“Of course it did! It improved our lives entirely. It was a huge accomplishment for us to have our own space, where I could raise my children. My kids, now 41, 37, and 35, are all grown up and successful in their own right. My oldest has gone to nursing school and is currently studying Psychology at Fresno State. My second oldest works for a government agency and my youngest is in construction.”

Martha expresses much gratitude for the program and shares that “it was a stepping stone” for other great things in life.

She no longer lives in her SHE home but remembers it fondly. Today, Martha is happily remarried. She is now a grandmother and great grandmother. In addition, Martha has adopted 4 children in need of her love and care.

Through the Mutual Self-Help Program, eight to twelve families are grouped together and agree to help each other build their houses with skilled onsite supervision and guidance of Self-Help Enterprises’ construction staff. The homes are built under the mutual self-help method of construction where each family is required to contribute a minimum of 40 hours a week working on all the homes for a period of 9 to 12 months. Family hours can be provided by the owners-to-be, any household member 16 years of age or older and approved helpers. Together, families pour foundations, frame homes, install electrical wiring, hang doors and windows and even lay tile and paint.

These labor hours, or “sweat equity,” are used as the down payment on their new home, reducing costs for a new home they could otherwise not afford. For more information about the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program, call us at (559) 651-1000).

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