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New Cohort of Self-Help Homeowners Start Building Their Homes Together

Feb 22, 2024 | News

Six new households started building their way to homeownership in early February. They are the newest cohort of MHO’s Self-Help Homeownership program. They are constructing their new homes in Spring Garden, one of MHO’s latest homeownership developments in the Enka-Candler community. Spring Garden’s location in western Buncombe County feels quintessentially Blue Ridge, with its rolling hills and sweeping mountain views.

 

Sky-rocketing housing prices and rising interest rates have blocked many hopeful buyers from achieving homeownership. Self-Help Homeownership is one program that’s working to help local families access homeownership despite the challenging housing market. Under the guidance of a professional construction supervisor, Self-Helpers build their way into homeownership through hard work and financial tools that serve income-limited, first-time homebuyers. Homes are financed with low-interest USDA mortgages and “sweat equity” construction hours, reducing the overall purchase cost. 

Self-Helpers bring diverse skill sets, backgrounds, and lived experiences to the cohort. Some start the program with construction experience whereas others have barely swung a hammer. Participants build their homes in their off-hours, usually working over the weekend. Construction takes an average of nine months to one year. The program is labor-intensive but immensely rewarding, producing 6 to 12 new affordable homes each year. 

“We are so excited to kick off construction with our latest group of Self-Help homebuilders,” said Megan Kirby, MHO’s Homeownership Program Specialist. “I am always inspired by Self-Helpers. They represent what many of us think of as ‘the American Dream.’ They are navigating individual and societal challenges, tapping into opportunities, and putting in their own labor to achieve their homeownership goals.”

What’s unique about MHO’s program is that Self-Helpers build their homes together, which means neighbors are building a new community from the ground up. No one moves in until all the homes in their cohort are complete. Plus, each Self-Helper moves in with a breadth of knowledge and practical skills that prove immensely helpful as they maintain and improve their homes in the coming years.

As construction progresses in Spring Garden, we look forward to introducing you to some of this year’s cohort of Self-Help Homebuilders. Until then, check out this story featuring two Self-Helpers from the previous cohort.

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