TOQUERVILLE – Four families enrolled in a self-help home-building program broke ground in Toquerville for their homes Thursday, marking the beginning of a new chapter in their journey to own a home.
Watch videocast at the top of the story, click the play arrow in the center.
The self-help program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Five County Association of Governments Housing Program, aims to assist “low income families to join other families to build a group of homes together,” according to the Five County Housing Program website.
For the families involved in the project, getting this far in the process has not been easy. They have faced financial hardship, medical challenges and other issues, and have been rejected by other programs.
“I first went to Color Country when Dixie and Dottie were over it, and I asked them what I could do to get into the program,” program participant Stephanie Wall said. “I had to be on a waiting list, and when I was on that waiting list my first year, they went out of business.
“So my application went to Provo and I followed it and I stayed in touch with it and updated it whenever they asked me to. About a year, year and a half later, the Five Counties picked it up.”
Wall is a single mother to four children, ages 16, 12, 9, and 18 months.
“The USDA is about to celebrate its 50th birthday in running this program, so that’s how long it’s been running and been successful,” Doni Pack, program administrator for the self-help program said. “People can qualify to be able to get a loan from USDA and the Federal Government. When they go to close their loan, there is no down payment required, no closing costs required, the loan is rated at 4 percent or less, and if making that mortgage payment would be too high of a percentage of their income, then USDA will do some financial assistance for a portion of that payment at 1 percent. They won’t expect that to be repaid until the end of the loan.”
Pack also said that this program does a lot to avoid negative stereotypes that can come with low-income housing.
“This is not a handout. They have to contribute 30 hours a week to build their own homes as well as contributing to building the other homes in the project,” Pack said.
“This way, they have the skills to be able to maintain their homes and the desire to do so,” she said. “There is a yearly followup where we review their financial situation.”
Pack and the program participants are aiming to complete the homes by June.
St. George News videographer Leanna Bergeron contributed the videocast for this report.
- For information about Five County AOG housing programs, go here.
- Contact Doni Pack by email, or by calling 435-673-3548.
- USDA Housing and Community Assistance
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