‘A hand up, not a hand out’; 7 families celebrate start of self-help homes

Families smile after the groundbreaking ceremony for the latest Self-Help Homes project in LaVerkin, Utah, March 7, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Self-Help Homes, St. George News

LAVERKIN — Excited families and officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate a groundbreaking for seven new homes to be built through the Mutual Self-Help Housing program.

Read more: 7 new homes to be built through sweat-equity with Self-Help Homes; public ceremony

Chase and Natalia Boshardt, participants in the latest Self-Help Homes project in LaVerkin, Utah, March 7, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Self-Help Homes, St. George News

“I cannot wait, I am so excited to start building,” Self-Help Homes participant Chase Boshardt said. “Really, really excited.”

The families will be able to start construction within a couple of weeks, as soon as the site work and foundations and footings are completed. While families supply most of the labor, subcontractors are hired for any work which requires a license.

No construction experience is required to participate in the sweat equity project which is administered by Self-Help Homes.

“This program just gives us an opportunity to build our house, together,” participant Matt Crane said. Crane and his wife, Courtney, and their four children attended the groundbreaking.

Families participating in the program provide at least 70 percent of the labor needed to build the houses, including the framing, roofing, cabinet installation, drywall, painting, etc. The sweat-equity helps families who might not otherwise be able to afford it get into a home of their own.

Each family works on the homes at least 35 hours every week, and the houses are built as a group, with everyone pitching in to do what is needed.

“They’ll be putting about 1,400 hours of sweat equity per house,” Self-Help Homes Executive Director Brad Bishop said, “and the beauty of it is nobody moves in until they’re all complete.”

Michael and Haylee Condie, participants in the latest Self-Help Homes project in LaVerkin, Utah, March 7, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Self-Help Homes, St. George News

The three-bedroom two-bathroom homes are situated on large lots in Toquerville and LaVerkin. Available house plans come with either an unfinished basement or an attic room.

“One of the things I like about this program is that, you know, we don’t necessarily consider it a hand-out, we consider it a hand up,” Ryan Kocher, Self Help Loan Specialist with the USDA, said.

The program helps very low- and low-income families be successful and achieve the American dream of home ownership, Kocher said.

The seven new homes, three in Toquerville and four in LaVerkin, are expected to be completed by fall or early winter. Self-Help Homes also owns a 16-lot subdivision in Toquerville and is seeking more qualified families for the program.

“It’s just very exciting,” LaVerkin City Councilwoman Patty Wise said. “This is a great neighborhood to have four of these beautiful homes. It adds so much to LaVerkin.”

The Mutual Self-Help Housing program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development; USDA provides low-interest mortgages for the homeowners.

In Washington County, the Mutual Self-Help Housing program is administered by Self-Help Homes, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable which has already overseen the construction of nearly 450 homes in Utah.

For more information about how to apply or how to volunteer for the program, visit the Self-Help Homes website, see the Facebook page or contact Julie Applegate at 435-429-1048 or julie@selfhelphomes.org.

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