Low-Income Neighbors Help Build Each Others’ Houses, and Strong Community Bonds

Low-Income Neighbors Help Build Each Others’ Houses, and Strong Community Bonds

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Interfaith Housing Alliance photo of self-help ownership programIn Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, six low-income families are moving into houses they helped build themselves, thanks to a remarkable program set up by the Interfaith Housing Alliance. Working collectively as a group, participants build their own homes and the homes of their future neighbors, and only move-in when all of the homes are completed.

IHA has created more than 1,100 affordable housing units in the last 20 years through private donations, public grants and “sweat equity”.

The key component of sweat equity is donated in lieu of a down payment. Building the 6 homes required a substantial investment of time (30 hours per week) for a total of more than 1,000 hours over a period of 9-12 months. About 65% of the total construction is performed by participants, who are trained and supervised by experienced IHA construction supervisors.

The IHA’s Self-Help Homeownership Program provides a low interest mortgage rate, which based on income can be as low as 1%, but also a well-earned sense of pride and accomplishment that can only be gained with such hands-on experience. A strong sense of community is created as neighbors work together, getting to know each other long before they move in. Participants learn valuable construction techniques and home maintenance skills to upkeep the residence and keep costs to a minimum.

Thanks to Steve G. for the story idea!

 

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