Self-help housing program set to help four more families

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

CARROLL COUNTY -- Another four families are set to build their own homes using sweat-equity in the coming months.

They are among a growing group of area families realizing the American dream through the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program.

A half-dozen homes have already been constructed in Carroll County under this program, and a dozen or so more have been built in surrounding counties.

Nearly "shovel-ready" for planned April ground-breakings are two Green Forest building sites: a vacant lot next to 405 Thorne Street; and another at the corner of Butler and Debbie Lynn streets.

The other two "nearly shovel-ready" sites include one near Rock Crusher east of Berryville, on Carroll Road 603, and the other along Ark. Hwy. 143 in the Grandview area.

The program, which makes home ownership possible through sweat-equity, just got a boost in the form of a $73,125 seed money loan.

According to Moises Loza, executive director of the Housing Assistance Council (HAC), the money goes to the Northwest Regional Housing Authority, which is one of 36 organizations across the country that builds new homes under the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program -- funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HAC granted a total of nearly $7.4 million in loans to those 36 organizations, said Loza.

He said families selected by the chosen organizations contribute their own "sweat equity" in order to reduce construction expenses.

"Family members will be hanging drywall, roofing, painting and completing other tasks using their own sweat as 'equity' under the supervision of a construction expert," he explained.

"This is the most exciting way I know of helping low-income families help not only themselves but other families capture a piece of the American Dream, not just this year but for years to come."

Most organizations receiving loans will also employ "mutual self-help" methods in which each family helps other families build their homes, he said.

The "mutual self-help" method is an integral part of the program in place here.

Ken McDowell, executive director of Northwest Regional Housing Authority, which oversees the local program, said, "Our partnership with the Housing Assistance Council will greatly help to achieve the goal of expanding homeownership for low to moderate income families established by our board of commissioners."

He said the Northwest Regional Housing Authority provides assistance to the elderly, handicapped, and families with low moderate income to improve housing conditions and make additional housing available.

People interested in the Self-Help Housing program should contact him at (870) 741-5522 or e-mail selfhelphousing @windstream.net.

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