Kentucky Highlands Community Development Corporation focuses its housing efforts in the six southern-most counties in its service area. All six counties are among the 100 poorest in the United States, as measured by median income, and are relatively underserved by affordable housing providers.
Mutual Self-Help Housing is one of the programs that Kentucky Highlands has found to be effective is helping this hard to serve population. They are finding that the labor provided, along with the use of USDA Rural Development’s affordable 502 Direct Loan Program, and other leveraged resources are allowing hard working families to become homeowners. These families are providing at least 65% of the labor necessary to build their own homes.
“NCALL has been instrumental to our success in self-help. They’re technical assistance staff are great resources. Without their support and expertise, we might never have made it through the early years.” Tom Manning-Beavin, Director of Housing, Kentucky Highlands CDC
One such family, Justin and Mandy (pictured above with their two sons) say that “getting in this program was a big relief and a blessing.” They had worked for eight years trying to get a home but hadn’t been able to do so any other way. According to Justin, “This is a real good program for families who can’t afford to buy a house or take out a loan to build a new house. It gives people like us a chance to have a home of our own.” Before building their own home in Monticello, Kentucky, the family was living near the Tennessee boarder and had a long commute to get into town. Mandy is happy now that she and the children will feel more a part of the community by living so close. “Now the kids are going to get to participate in school and community activities. Before it was too far and there was no time.”
Another huge benefit to the families in this area is the savings that most see in energy costs. According to Christine, another program participant, “In a typical month, I was paying between $100-$150 in electric bills. In the winter it could be up to $300...and that was with me keeping my thermostat at 50°. If not for my children financially assisting me and letting me stay with them during the coldest part of the winter, and the financial heating assistance I received from the local LIHEAP program, I would have had to turn off my heat altogether. I am a disabled single lady and I never felt warm in the winter. I wore my coat inside and used electric blankets to keep my bill as low as possible.”
She is much more comfortable in her new home. “My new house is very well insulated and I am so comfortable here. At most my monthly electric bill is $77, much less than before.” There have been other benefits of the program as well. “The sense of accomplishment and security I have for the rest of my life is more than words can describe. It’s a good thing knowing that you helped to build your house. NCALL has been instrumental to our success in self-help. They’re technical assistance staff are great resources. Without their support and expertise, we might never have made it through the early years.”
NCALL was proud to be involved in many activities to celebrate the program’s 50 year anniversary in 2015. We celebrated the 50,000th home being built in the program with many events and a national conference that served almost 400 people.
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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