A Mutual Self-Help Housing success story -- Sweat equity earns a home for single mom

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Yolanda Weinmann, a single mother of four, is happy to show off her brand-new house built in downtown Grandview using "sweat equity" as a down payment through the Mutual Self-Help Housing program, administered through the Northwest Regional Housing Authority. Hers is one of five Self-Help Housing homes constructed in Carroll County in the past year. Anna Mathews / Carroll County News

GRANDVIEW -- Proudly pointing to the light fixtures, flooring and paint colors she chose for the house she helped build, Yolanda Weinmann beamed as she surveyed her surroundings.

As a single mother of four, she'll be the first to admit it's quite an accomplishment to wrangle a brand new home on a single salary while going to school to get a degree.

She did it by participating in the Mutual Self-Help Housing program.

And, she did it by contributing "sweat equity" as a down payment -- by working on her home and three others in Carroll County.

Along the way, she gained construction knowledge, learned teamwork, and garnered a greater appreciation for the house she now calls home.

"I learned about codes, all the details that goes into a house and about hard work," she said. "It makes you feel like you earned it -- and because of all that, you cherish it more."

Yolanda said the process began for her about a year-and-a-half-ago when a friend told her about the program.

"It doesn't always take that long," she commented. "I may have dragged my feet on the paperwork part."

Her new home was built on property in downtown Grandview where her family lived for years, in a house that had seen its better days.

"It had a leaky roof that we couldn't fix, no mater how often we tried," she recalled. "It was home to us for 20 years, but you could see daylight through the siding, it sat right on the ground, and it was a money pit."

"This," she said surveying her new digs, "is an answer to a prayer."

The old home was dozed to make way for new, and even the demolition and site work came out of her Self-Help Housing budget.

One of the first things Yolanda and her team of volunteers did was tidy up the site where the new house would go.

"I remember picking up all those rocks before the house went on top," she recalled smiling.

Choosing paint colors, fixtures and flooring, were a few of the decisions Yolanda had to make.

She also chose the floor plan, and picked one with a larger living room and smaller bedrooms to accommodate family gatherings.

"I have older children and wanted a bigger living room for when they come home and visit," she explained.

Her youngest, 16-year-old Micaela, still lives at home and selected a warm green wall color for her bedroom and pecan for her bath.

"I have a lavender bedroom and blue bath," said a beaming Yolanda. "And the kitchen and livingroom are sombrero and pale coral."

She was delighted with her new kitchen, with dishwasher, range, microwave and disposal all included in the "package," plus her back deck that overlooks a landscaped yard with sprigs of new grass growing into a lush carpet.

Yolanda was particularly impressed with her front deck, a concrete porch and staircase, customized with ironwork provided by her son-in-law Justin Bailes.

"It makes it look prettier and really sets off my house," she beamed.

Her house payments will be based on her income, she said, and are expected to be less than $600 a month.

Plus, she was particularly pleased to learn she already has about $18,000 in equity from her "sweat equity" efforts.

Although her "turn-key" house is completed, Yolanda said there is still a little more work to be done, all "wish list" projects that will come out of her surplus budget.

She plans to have bookshelves built in the third bedroom to serve as a combination library, office and guest room, have her driveway slab extended, and purchase a refrigerator with the left-over funds.

She appreciates all the help she's received along the way to make her dream come true, help from her family and her church family -- the Faith Christian Family Church in Eureka Springs.

The entire process was amazing, she said, as were the people who made it happen.

That included the entire Self-Help Housing team, she said, a group that really made the difference.

"It's so awesome, as a single mom, to have dedicated, educated people who truly care about you -- people on your side watching out for you. That was a real secure feeling," she said of the team.

She highly recommends the Mutual Self-Help program to others who are willing to contribute "sweat equity" in the home ownership process.

For more information, contact Mutual Self-Help, administered through the Northwest Regional Housing Authority, at (870) 741-5522 or selfhelphousing@windstream.net.

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