Families and individuals can help each other out construct their own homes. This is through the USDA Rural Development’s Mutual Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance Grants, which will be coursed to organizations who in turn will assist participating families.
Mutual Self-Help vs Self-Help Housing
Per the USDA, mutual self-help is a construction method using the labor of some four to ten families organized in groups to reduce the costs of new home construction.
Participating families will work toward completion of their homes, exchanging labor in the process. To participate, the family must be eligible for a USDA Section 502 (direct or guaranteed) loan or other loans such as those of the HUD.
The family must also be capable of furnishing the required labor and time in building their home as well as a desire to work with other families in the program.
In the event that the family cannot provide their share of labor due to incapacity, they may use a substitute.
The mutual self-help method is different from self-help housing where an individual family need not exchange labor with other families to complete the construction project. More importantly, the self-help method is only applicable to rehabilitation and repair projects.
Mutual Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance Grants
Back to the program, the Mutual Self-Help Technical Assistance Grants are awarded to eligible federally recognized tribes and private and public non-profit organizations.
Their role is to help out designated families – those with low and very low income in eligible addresses – to complete loan applications to join the program. They may carry out other tasks so families can participate in the program.
More importantly, a qualified tribe or non-profit will provide the supervisory and technical assistance necessary to participating families to construct their homes, and help other organizations in providing self-help housing supervisory and technical assistance.
The USDA is clear about the funds from the grants not to be used for (i) hiring people to perform the construction work on behalf of the participating households, (ii) buying construction materials and other property, (iii) paying the participants’ expenses, costs and debts, and (iv) paying for employee training and other indirect costs.