St. Charles Herald-Guide

Affordable Housing is coming to St. Charles Parish

By M. Susanne Hinkle - February 1, 2006

The USDA Rural Self-Help program will help increase housing opportunities for low income families in St. Charles Parish.

Family Resources of New Orleans, a non-profit community housing development organization was recently awarded a pre-development grant from USDA to recruit, educate, and train families on how to reduce cost by building their own home. "Sweat equity" is labor provided by the family. The estimate cost for "sweat equity" labor is $8,000 to $10,000 per home. This cost reduction will help reduce construction cost, passing the savings on to the homeowner. Families will be required to contribute not less than 30 hrs. a week of "sweat equity". The labor can be performed in the evenings and on weekends.

"Mutual Self-Help housing is a method of construction requiring families to work in groups. It is a method by which families work together as a group, help each other build their home" says Paula Pete, Executive Director of Family Resources of New Orleans.

The concept of self-help dates back to early civilization when early settlers helped construct each other's home. "We are elated to have the self-help project in Killona," says Jerry Darensburg, president of the Killona Civic Association. Killona, a small community in desperate need of housing and economic development, was chosen because of the Civic Association's commitment to revitalizing the area.

Fourteen self-help homes will be constructed, the average size of each home ranging from 1400-1488 sq. feet. Because construction cost in St. Charles Parish has prevented many low income families from owning their own home, the rural self-help project is designed to offer quality and affordability.

The mutual self-help project is a program sponsored by the USDA in rural communities. USDA will finance the loans for 33 years at 1% interest rate.

Free housing counseling and pre-purchase counseling is provided on weekends at the Killona fire station.

Please call the Boutte office at (985) 758-0570 to schedule an appointment.

Families should bring the following to the interview: Copy of W-2's and income tax returns for 2003, 1099 for self employed of last two years, proof if income (2 recent check stubs), social security, letter of disability income, child support payments, etc., driver's license or valid picture identification, dismissal of bankruptcy, divorce decree, tax liens. Additional documents may be required.

Families must also order a credit report which cost $35.00.