Wednesday, January 13, 2010

NHC 2009 "Pioneering Housing Strategies" Award Finalist: Mercy Housing Idaho

NHC Member Partner Mercy Housing Idaho was named as a 2009 NHC “Pioneering Housing Strategies” Award finalist for its Self-Help Single Family Homeownership program, which helps low- and moderate-income Idaho families achieve homeownership through its comprehensive approach.

Using sweat equity, each family commits 35 hours per week to build their home and the homes of their neighbors. Once completed, the homes are typically valued from $110,000 to $120,000, with the sweat equity investment equaling roughly $20,000 per house. Using rural development mortgage loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, families who live in these homes often see interest rates as low as 1 percent.

To make the program work, Mercy Housing staff provides construction supervision, financial literacy and home maintenance classes to all participating families. This model provides low- and moderate- income participants with the opportunity to increase their assets and help build a more solid future for their families. In turn, Idaho's rural communities also benefit from capital investments in creating new housing stock, new neighborhoods, and an increased tax base, as well as new jobs for local contractors and suppliers.

To date, more than 104 homes have been built through this initiative, without a single family experiencing foreclosure. Additionally, many of the homeowners go back to school to achieve their goals of higher education, increase their family size, volunteer in their communities as leaders, take on new jobs at a higher wage, and more. Mercy Housing Idaho continues to expand this program, helping families across the state achieve homeownership and accomplish their life goals.

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