In Rhode Island, the average cost for housing is $265,000. When you add int he state's high taxes, it puts homeownership out of reach for many working households. Mutual Self-Help Housing is one of the programs that
NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley (NWBRV) has found to be effective in 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 served as the critical link necessary for NWBRV to meet the goals set out for our Mutual Self-Help program. Never was there a time when the staff was not available to answer our calls or meeet with our development and financial team.
- Terri Barbosa, Director of Real Estate Development, Neighborworks Blackstone River Valley
The plans for the development shown here in the picture have been in the works since about 2009. Between funding delays on the federal and state level, and even waiting on an update to the definition of what is considered "rural", the project encountered many obstacles. There was a lot of joy this fall, when the first group of seven participants moved into their homes. Terri Barbosa, NWBRV's Director of Real Estate Development, thinks that Self-Help Housing has made an incredible difference in the lives of the first seven families, as well as the potential future residents. "What was once vacant, open property, now contains many acres of preserved open space as well as a tight-knit, diverse community who cares about one another. They are neighbors in the truest sense of the term."
"These families are invested in their community and their homes as they spent thousands of hours of their lives making them their own. In addition to owning a home, these families have also gained a great deal of equity through the program, contributing to their financial stability and overall wealth. If not for this, program our families would be residing in overpriced rental properties that would likely account for over 30% of their income."
One such new homewoner is Amy, a divorced mother of two. She had been renting an old mill house. The heat in her rental was oil,which kept the downstairs warm, but made it close to unlivable upstairs. Her daughter's bedroom had been too cold to stay in, so she was sleeping in Amy's room. This new house that Amy and her two children moved into is a great new start for the family. "It's wonderful to have a stable, safe and warm place for my children and me. The process was tough but it was worth it. I made friends with my new neighbors and even lost 40 pounds in the process. "Another new homeowner is Karen. At 47, she is excited to have her own home. She hasn't lived in her own home since the age of 10.
According to Barbosa, "NCALL served as the critical link necessary for NWBRV to meet the goals set out for our Mutual Self_Help program. Never was there a time when the staff was not available to answer our calls or meet with our Development and Financial team. The organization's training and support were essential elements, assuring the program pieces were completed correctly and in as timely a manner as possible. NCALL helped make the entire Mutual Self-Help program possible for NWBRV and the families who are now very proud homeowners."
"The technical assistant provided by NCALL was imperative to assure both funding and construction phases were completed to the highest standards, maintaining compliance and program integrity."