Self-Help Housing Groundbreaking

Self-Help Housing Groundbreaking

Posted on December 7, 2017

Self-Help Enterprises held a groundbreaking ceremony on December 7, 2017 to recognize 10 families who are beginning construction on their new affordable homes through the organization’s mutual self-help housing program. A ceremonial “turning of the dirt” commemorated the occasion.

The City of Woodlake is home to many agricultural workers and other hardworking families who have been effectively shut out of the home purchase market due to lack of new construction or existing homes on the market. To address the demand from the community for affordable housing, the City of Woodlake partners with Self-Help Enterprises to facilitate housing programs offering diverse housing options. These programs include the First-Time Homebuyer program that helps subsidize mortgages to keep mortgage payments affordable for new homeowners, the Housing Rehabilitation program which offers home repair and renovations that keep low-income families in their existing home, and the self-help program that gives families the opportunity to build their own home along with their neighbors. Self-Help Enterprises is also working with the City of Woodlake to preserve and rehabilitate an 11-unit rental property on Danielle Way. The occupied units are home to tenants currently living in units with deferred maintenance needs. These eleven units will be brought up to the current building code to address health and safety concerns, energy efficiency, and other needed upgrades.

For the Reynoso family (pictured above), the self-help housing program means an opportunity for a better future. As Corrine Reynoso stated, “Our kids are very excited to have their own room and we are excited to have a home to call our own. This has been our dream. The affordable mortgage will help us save for our children’s futures.” Jose Antonio Reynoso is the second generation to build a self-help home. His parents built a self-help home in the early 90s and he remembers helping his parents build the home during his teen years. Jose Antonio said, “It was an emotional and rewarding experience. Twenty years later, my children will see us build our home.”

“We strongly believe that a decent home is one of the basic building blocks for families and for a thriving community,” said Tom Collishaw, President and CEO of Self-Help Enterprises. “Through our ongoing partnership with the City of Woodlake, we have created homeownership and affordable housing opportunities for hundreds of low- and moderate-income families. These families now have the security and stability that comes with having a safe and decent place to call home.”

“I am proud of the long-standing relationship between the city of Woodlake and Self-Help Enterprises as we continue to provide a piece of the American dream for local families. Homeownership at Valencia Heights is made possible by good governance and collaboration between public and private partnerships”, said Woodlake Mayor Rudy Mendoza.

The new self-help housing subdivision, known as Valencia Heights, will add a total of 70 new, affordable homes on a 15-acre subdivision that features a neighborhood park. The completion of the 70 homes will bring a total of 257 homes to Woodlake since the first self-help houses were constructed in 1967.

The homes are built under the USDA Rural Development mutual self-help housing program, with homeowners providing over 65 percent of the construction labor. Over a nine to twelve month period, groups of eight to twelve families work together on nearly every aspect of the homes with direction from a skilled construction supervisor. Each homeowner contributes a minimum of 40 hours per week toward completion of all homes in the group and all the homes must be completed before any family can move in. These labor hours, or “sweat equity”, are used as the down payment on their new home, resulting in affordable monthly payments for a home they otherwise could not afford. The homes, ranging from 1,240 to 1,480 square feet, feature three or four bedrooms, two baths, covered patios, and two-car garages. All homes are Energy Star-certified, reducing their energy consumption, helping protect the environment, and ensuring the homeowners pay less on their monthly utility bills. This cost savings also helps families save for other important expenses like healthy food purchases and education.

“Owning a home is part of accomplishing the American Dream and receiving an excellent education is part as well. This combination of homeownership and education is an exciting opportunity for the community of Woodlake and the Woodlake Unified School District,” said Drew Sorensen, Superintendent of the Woodlake Unified School District. “This partnership bodes well for the future of the children living in these new homes. Woodlake Unified School District is proud to be a supporter of this endeavor.”

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

Thank you to City of Woodlake officials and our community partners for joining us and sharing your support for affordable home ownership!

See more photos of the event here.

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