2019 Self-Help Housing Success Story

Habitat for Humanity of Caroline County in Bowling Green, Virginia is the latest grantee assisted by NCALL’s Self Help Housing team. As a rural community, the self-help housing program is very much needed.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) self-help housing program consists of families working together to build their own homes. With the assistance of a grant that supports skilled staff, an association of generally four to 10 families is formed. These families provide at least 65% of the labor necessary to build the homes.

Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity of Caroline County, Jason Tickle, said prior to becoming part of the Self-Help Housing program, it had been 10 years since they were able to build a home. Since being accepted in the program last year, they have five homes under construction for deserving families.

Jason said there was a stigma about affordable housing in the past. “It has been wonderful for the community. It put a positive light on affordable housing, and knocked down a lot of those barriers,” he said. “The community comes together to help build the homes and meet the families, and they realize how wonderful it is.” The sponsor organization receives a Section 523 Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance Grant from Rural Development to operate the self-help program. The nonprofit grantee takes on the responsibilities of training the families in construction as well as homeownership skills, keeping the families' loan records, ordering the construction materials, choosing the sites and house plans, recruiting the families and keeping them motivated throughout the construction process.

Jason described the experience as humbling. He said one family in particular really tugged at his heart strings. The clients are mother and daughter, and the mother is a senior citizen and the daughter is blind. They have certain needs in their home for safe living conditions. “They are living in a mobile home with no heat and most the electrical sockets don’t work,” Jason said. “Their new home will have three bedrooms, two baths, and is designed with the daughter’s disability and the mother’s age in mind.” Her son and daughter-in-law are providing the labor for them.

Jason said another issue the community faces is retaining teachers and first responders. “I am pleased to say three of the five homes we are building are for teachers. Our teachers are in the right income bracket for the program,” he said. “We are hoping to not only provide more affordable housing, but also help the schools retain some of their teachers.”

Jason has been very pleased with the support he has received from NCALL. “I can’t say enough wonderful things about NCALL. The self-help team answered my calls day and night and provided technical expertise that I was lacking,” he said. “When we were first applying for the grant, there was a tight deadline. They cleared their schedules, came down, and helped me through the whole process. They are wonderful and I am truly grateful.”