2014 Self-Help Housing Success Story

Interfaith Housing Alliance has been operating a Mutual Self-Help Housing Program since 1994. While they have a long history with the program, there have been endless changes to the economy during this time. This organization, based in Frederick County, Maryland, needed a change to their program. They began to have an increasingly difficult time finding affordable land and the families that could qualify for their new construction program.

So, with NCALL’s assistance, they decided to modify their program to the Self-Help Purchase Repair model. With this model, participants purchase homes on the market that are in need of repair.

With the assistance of the organization, an appropriate home is selected, and the participating family assists in the repair of the home. The participant benefits from saving on a home by performing the needed repairs themselves and the community benefits by getting homes off the market that may have been difficult to sell.

Self-Help Housing

Normally when a home is purchased with conventional financing, it is not possible to get loan funds for repairs and most low income applicants don’t have enough savings to make the needed updates. According to Interfaith’s Housing Director, Mary Ellen Mitchell, “The Self-Help Purchase Repair Program is a wonderful option that we can offer our clients. We have a vibrant rental housing program and now we can have a vibrant homeownership program again. We love that this program can make homeownership not just a hope, but a reality.”

Tom (shown above at loan closing location) is a middle school History teacher in the Frederick area. He had been looking for homes for a while, wanting to be near Frederick, but had a limited budget. Tom was having a hard time finding any suitable homes in his price range. “My Realtor heard about Interfaith’s Purchase Repair program, and suggested it as an option. I was able to get so much more house for my money.”

Tom didn’t mind putting in the work necessary to complete the repairs and updates to his home; so far he has put in over 250 hours. His home was made more energy efficient by replacing window air conditioning units and an old oil heater with energy efficient mechanicals. “I definitely always wanted to be a homeowner; but I was starting to think I wouldn’t find a place that I could afford.” Not only is Tom happy about his new house, he also feels equipped to handle this new responsibility.

“Because of this program, I had to go to homebuyer education classes. So, I feel better off because of IHA and its resources.”

NCALL has been with Interfaith every step of the way during the last 20 years.

According to Mary Ellen, “NCALL helped us convert from the new construction program to Purchase Repair. They helped us implement the new program through training and application assistance. It’s so helpful to know that I can just pick up the phone….and NCALL is there as a resource.”

Self-Help Housing

NCALL's Self-Help Housing Team provides technical and management assistance to operating, predevelopment, and prospective self-help housing grantees and organizations in the 21-state northeast region through a contract with USDA's Rural Housing Service.

2014 Annual Report


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