LEEDS—An innovative program that assists low income people to become homeowners through the “sweat equity” of constructing their home themselves is celebrating the achievement of its 300th house built by individuals and families over the past 25 years.
Community Concepts’ Self Help Housing works with groups of six households who together build each other’s houses over the course of a year with the assistance of a construction supervisor in Oxford, Androscoggin, Franklin, Cumberland or Kennebec counties.
The group that began construction in 2016 is now putting the finishing touches on their homes, marking the 300th such house built through the program since 1991.
“The 300th house is an exciting marker for us. It means so much in terms of the stability of our communities and development of our rural areas to have these quality homes built and maintained by the individuals and families that have participated in the program over the years,” said Sandy Albert, director of Housing and Improvement Services at Community Concepts.
Seeking Participants for Next Round
The program is moving ahead with more houses to be built in 2017 with funding from USDA Rural Development. All the available slots have not yet been filled, so anyone interested in participating in the program should contact Community Concepts as soon as possible.
The program allows participants to build as much as $20,000 in equity during construction, and low monthly mortgage payments are set based on income once construction is completed. Technical assistance and training for building the houses are provided, along with three-bedroom house plans that conform to the latest Energy Star efficiency standards.
Houses must be built in Oxford, Androscoggin, Franklin, Cumberland or Kennebec counties, but participants do not need to currently live in any of those counties. Albert stressed that the income guidelines for the Self Help Housing program are such that many people qualify to participate.
“Self-Help is unique in that you don’t have to be very low income to necessarily be eligible,” Albert said. “There are some income guidelines, but if we can get the phone to ring, we can go over that with you. You can also deduct some income based on a couple factors, so I would encourage anyone interested to call to find out if you are eligible.”