Self-Help Housing Program Offers Path to Homeownership

Self-Help Housing Program Offers Path to Homeownership

Posted on November 21, 2017

After over 18,000 hours of sweat and hard work, eight families moved in to their new, safe, affordable homes in the rural Kern County community of Wasco. Among them is Marisol Medina who had always dreamed of owning her own home. She never thought that she would build it from the ground up, let alone build a home alongside her parents, Jose and Josefina Medina, who also built their own home through Self-Help Enterprises’ mutual self-help housing program.

Marisol’s parents, Jose, 62, and Josefina, 61, have rented their entire life and they were excited to become first-time homeowners after years of believing it could never happen for them. For the past few years, Marisol, 35, has also been renting a home in Wasco where she resided with her four daughters, age 15 to 20. Now, Marisol and her parents hold the keys to their new homes, which are located five doors from each other. “We were able to build something here that we will live in, and that is pretty amazing,” said Jose.

Marisol applied for the self-help housing program five years ago, but she didn’t qualify at the time. It was Marisol’s daughters who gave her the motivation to work hard and get her credit score and savings in order. Marisol also credits Self-Help Enterprises’ Gateway Homeownership Education program with helping to prepare her to becomesuccessful, long-term homeowner. I’m so grateful for a program like this that makes it possible for families like mine to be able to have a home.” said Marisol. “It’s a huge undertaking, but building a home together with my parents made it that much more special. Now we can walk over to share meals together, and I’ll be able to care for them as they age. That means a lot to me.”

Adults in the group range from 25 to 62 years old, and between the eight families there are 13 children who now have new homes to live in.

Through the program, groups of families work together as a team and provide “sweat equity” to build all the homes in the group. All homes in the group must be completed before any family can move in. Over a period of about eight to 12 months, the group works under the direction of a skilled construction supervisor and contribute 70 percent of the construction labor, including framing, roof sheathing, painting and landscaping.

The energy-efficient three- and four-bedroom homes range from 1,210 to 1,361 square feet and feature two baths, covered patios, and two-car garages. “Without this program, we would never have been able to be in a home like this,” said Josefina.

Wasco is home to many agriculture workers and hardworking families who have been challenged to find a secure and stable place to call home. The families have mortgage payments that are structured to be affordable, depending on income and family size with payments ranging from $483 to $771 per month. Construction and mortgage financing is provided by USDA Rural Development.

In 1971, Self-Help Enterprises built the first self-help homes in Wasco. Today, 113 Wasco homes are among the over 6,200 homes the organization has built across the San Joaquin Valley since 1965. Self-Help Enterprises is currently building 10 homes in the subdivision with 10 more starting construction in the coming weeks.

As Marisol puts it: “From out my window, I see families who are putting time and energy into building their own homes. I’m excited to meet my neighbors because I know that we all share a common goal – to achieve our dream of owning a home.”

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