Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) joined USDA Rural Development acting Director Kathy Beisner to announce a $790,000 Section 523 Technical Assistance Grant award from the USDA Rural Development to the Milford Housing Development Corporation (MHDC). This grant will help the MHDC implement the USDA Rural Development Self Help Housing Program, which helps low-income families take part in the labor to construct their own homes, under the supervision of the MHDC.
The program requires applicants to provide 65 percent of the labor required to construct the homes under the supervision of MHDC's construction team. Participants will go through credit and homeownership counseling, plus extensive preconstruction training where they are taught jobsite responsibilities and tool use and safety. The grant award provides MHDC with funding for accumulated administrative costs, the salary for a construction foreman, and certain power tools. The grant is expected to help 24 families/homes located in Harmony Hill and other communities throughout Kent and Sussex Counties.
"The Self-Help Housing Program is one that instills a sense of pride in individuals as they work to build the very structure they will live in," said Sen. Carper. "I support continued federal funding for self-help housing programs because they are crucial to helping deserving families in Kent and Sussex counties realize their dreams of homeownership."
"Homeownership is part of the American dream, and programs like the USDA's Rural Development Self Help Housing Program make that dream more accessible as we work our way out of this long and difficult recession," Sen. Coons said. "I'm so proud that the Milford Housing Development Corporation serves low income families regardless of age or background, and that it operates here in Delaware the only federally-funded homeownership program specifically for rural America. These programs change lives."
MHDC offers the Self-Help Program as an alternative path to homeownership for families who might otherwise not be eligible through a more traditional avenue. Working in small groups of families, participants help build one another's homes together over a year-long construction process for 30 hours each week. Key program features include: no down payment; mortgage rates as low as 1 percent depending on eligibility; Energy Star homes and no experience required. Because of the 30 hour per week commitment, families supply about 70 percent of all labor for their home's construction -- 1,500 hours and more than $32,000 in sweat equity.
"The Self-Help Housing Program is more than 40 years old and lives up to a simple idea that as a country we can live within our means while still making the investments we need to prosper," said USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Kathy Beisner. "The program follows a balanced approach asking everyone to do their part so no one has to bear all the burden. Approximately 60 families in Delaware have benefited from this program since 2009. Milford Housing Development Corporation is an outstanding leader in affordable housing and we could not do our job without them."
MHDC is the only agency in Delaware operating the Self-Help Homeownership Program, which serves very low to low-income households, regardless of age or background in Kent and Sussex County. The Self-Help Program average income for participants is $24,630.