Local Action: Low-income neighbors help build each others' houses

Habitat for Humanity builds homes for low-income folks with volunteers and donors and sweat equity from those who will own the new homes. Now the Interfaith Housing Alliance goes a step further with a program to help future neighbors to help themselves. The next step? Resurrecting the old barn-raising ethic practiced by our ancestors not so long ago. Not because some program makes it possible, but because helping each other is is both natural and obvious. Because our swelling generosity of spirit spills over into action.

And I do see it happening, the grand American ethos of self-sufficient, rugged individualism begins to be balanced by a renewed focus on community, our shared destiny.

Thanks to goodnewsnetwork.com.

In Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, six low-income families are moving into houses they helped build themselves, thanks to a remarkable program set up by the Interfaith Housing Alliance. Working collectively as a group, participants build their own homes and the homes of their future neighbors, and only move-in when all of the homes are completed.

IHA has created more than 1,100 affordable housing units in the last 20 years through private donations, public grants and “sweat equity”.

The key component of sweat equity is donated in lieu of a down payment. Building the 6 homes required a substantial investment of time (30 hours per week) for a total of more than 1,000 hours over a period of 9-12 months. About 65% of the total construction is performed by participants, who are trained and supervised by experienced IHA construction supervisors.

The IHA’s Self-Help Homeownership Program provides a low interest mortgage rate, which based on income can be as low as 1%, but also a well-earned sense of pride and accomplishment that can only be gained with such hands-on experience. A strong sense of community is created as neighbors work together, getting to know each other long before they move in. Participants learn valuable construction techniques and home maintenance skills to upkeep the residence and keep costs to a minimum.

WATCH the video from WGAL-Channel 8 News…

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