Celebrating Homeownership

Celebrating Homeownership

Posted on June 22, 2017

On June 22, Self-Help Enterprises celebrated the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Homeownership Month and NeighborWorks Week in Traver, CA where eleven families, who began as strangers, are building their new, affordable homes together from the ground up. The event was attended by Joyce Allen, USDA Rural Development Deputy Administrator for Single Family Housing, and Gary Wolfe, NeighborWorks America Western Region Vice President, who shared their support for rural housing and community development efforts.

The celebration event also recognized over 150 youth and adults from La Casa de Cristo Church, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, who volunteered June 19 through June 22 to work side by side with families as they build their homes.

The rural community of Traver has historically lacked new housing options. The demand from the community for affordable housing, coupled with revitalization efforts by the County of Tulare, led Self-Help Enterprises to commit resources to help improve infrastructure and housing. After many years of planning and anticipation, Self-Help Enterprises was able to purchase and develop the subdivision in partnership with the County, who are now developing plans to improve community infrastructure. The affordable housing project is complemented by a new health clinic facility built by Family HealthCare Network, another traditional partner of Self-Help Enterprises, on a nearby site. The construction of the new self-help neighborhood, located at the Northwest Corner of Canal Drive and Jacobs Drive, has also resulted in sidewalk improvements along one side of Jacobs Drive.

The single-family, energy-efficient homes are all built under the USDA Rural Development mutual self-help housing program, with homeowners providing over 70 percent of the construction labor. In the program, groups of nine to twelve families are formed to construct the homes over a nine to twelve month period. Each homeowner must contribute a minimum of 40 hours per week toward completion of all homes in the group and all the homes must be finished before any family can move in. These labor hours, or “sweat equity”, are used as the down payment on their new home, reducing costs for a home they could otherwise not afford. Once the homes are complete, the families will move in with affordable monthly payments and low fixed interest rates. The homes, ranging from 1,256 to 1,361 square feet, feature three or four bedrooms, two baths, covered patios, and two-car garages. The families are projected to move into their new homes in March 2018.

Self-Help Enterprises provides homeownership education, financial fitness counseling, and home maintenance training prior to completion of the program. Historically this training has made self-help homeowners among the most successful long-term homeowners of any program in the nation. Since 1965, when Self-Help Enterprises pioneered the mutual self-help housing program, the organization has helped more than 6,200 families in the San Joaquin Valley build their own homes.

During NeighborWorks Week, Self-Help Enterprises and other affiliated NeighborWorks organizations across the country mobilize tens of thousands of residents, business people and government officials in a week of events with a focus on neighborhood improvement and supporting homeownership. In 2016, the NeighborWorks network helped­­­­ 360,000 individuals and families with affordable housing and counseling. The NeighborWorks network was founded and is supported by NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.

USDA Rural Development’s National Homeownership Month brings attention to homeownership in rural communities. Each year, celebrations honor new homeowners and recognize partners that help make homeownership a reality. Through the partnership between Self-Help Enterprises’ housing programs and USDA Rural Development programs, rural residents are able to buy, refinance and repair homes. Since 1949, USDA Rural Development has helped over 4.1 million rural residents purchase a home.

Together, Self-Help Enterprises, NeighborWorks America, and USDA Rural Development are working to build strong communities by helping families achieve the dream of homeownership.

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