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People’s Self Help Housing: 50 Years of Improving Housing and Lives

It is the 50 year anniversary of People’s Self Help Housing PSSH (PSSH).  PSSH has been working to increase the availability of affordable housing in California’s central coastal area since 1970.  PSSH’s mission is to help low income families build and purchase their own homes while also providing affordable rental housing.

 PSSH started with the help of a group of local citizens and community leaders who wanted to tackle the shortage of available low income housing. These concerned citizens and community leaders were able to address the lack of low income housing after the Fair Housing act of 1968. PSSH was founded in 1970 with Jeanette Duncan leading the way as founder and President/CEO. 

Over the last 50 years PSSH has helped build 1200 homes in the central coastal area of California through Mutual Self Help housing.  PSSH was one of pioneering organizations that employed this innovative approach to help low income families get the home of their dreams.  The Mutual and Self Help Housing program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture  and is the only federal program where sweaty equity is used in combination with affordable loans and technical assistance. Families that are helped by this program work nights and weekends to provide 65% (or 1,000 hours) of the construction. Nationally families that participate in Mutual Self Help Housing are able to earn on average $18,215 in equity, decrease construction costs and make lasting investments. The hours the family puts in not only reduces the overall construction cost for the family but most times it gives them a better appreciation for their home. It also allows them to learn the construction process necessary to build a sound home.

PSSH also helps build affordable housing complexes for farm workers and their families. People’s Self- Help Housing owns and manages over 1,900 rental units in California. With that they are able to provide low cost, comfortable housing units to over 5,000 individuals and their families.  Canyon Creek is one example of PSHH’s efforts to not only increase the supply of affordable housing but also provide important services. PSSH has established a learning center and health screen clinic at the development. This provides the 69 farmworker families who reside at Canyon Creek access to important health and education resources. People’s Self- Help Housing has also helped many families and their children by offering site based programs such as after school tutoring and college prep. Thanks to these programs PSSH has made it possible for many young adults to be the first ones in their family to attend college.

Today, John Fowler leads PSSH. Throughout these 50 years PSSH has made access to affordable housing more available and has helped many low income communities and families prosper while also allowing them to have place that they can call home.

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