The Appalachian Regional Commission, has designated Wayne County Kentucky as a “distressed area.”
They define this as a community in which the poverty rate is 150% of the United States average or greater with a median family income no greater than 67% of the US average.
In this impoverished area, Kentucky Highlands Community Development Corporation (KHCDC) is making a positive difference in the community by offering a Mutual Self-Help Housing Program.
“The self-help housing program has really been able to create good news in this county effected so negatively by the weak economy,” says Tom Manning-Beavin, Housing Director for KHCDC.
This program has not only developed much needed affordable housing, but it has put subcontractors back to work. According to siding and roofing contractors Rusty and Susan Upchurch, “Before this project came along, we hadn’t worked in six months. We were about to lose everything.”
KHCDC began their Mutual Self-Help Housing Program in 2008. Since then they have built homes in both Wayne and Clinton Counties. The organization was formed in 1968 to stimulate growth and expand employment opportunities. They serve 22 counties in Southeastern Kentucky.
“Self-Help really is a great program and NCALL has been instrumental in our success. They really pushed us to be smarter in the administration of the program. They insisted that we have a staff person to do loan packaging every day. Having a loan packager anchors a lot of other things that we do. For our organization, having the capacity to package a Rural Development 502 Loan has been critical to our success. Without NCALL’s support and patience, we would have failed and given up.”
The most recent group was another turning point for KHCDC. “When one of our self-help groups fell apart, NCALL really pushed us to reach out and market to the Latino community in Wayne County,” said Manning-Beavin. That strategy worked well for KHCDC. Half of their last group was Latino.
“At first, there was a concern that for this reason the group wouldn’t get along. That concern proved to be unfounded. The group got along very well and continues to stay connected.”
According to new homeowner, Patsy, “I never would have met the families that were in my group otherwise, but now I have friends for life!”
NCALL's Self-Help Housing Team provides technical and management assistance to operating, predevelopment, and prospective self-help housing grantees and organizations in the 21-state northeast region through a contract with USDA's Rural Housing Service.
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