Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing

Self-Help Housing is the only federal program that combines “sweat equity” homeownership opportunities with technical assistance and affordable loans for America’s rural families. Self-Help Housing families work nights and weekends to provide 65 percent of the construction labor on their own and each other’s homes. In doing so, families earn equity, decrease construction costs, and make lasting investments in their community.

The Self-Help Housing program is exclusively targeted to very low- and low-income families who are otherwise unable to access decent, clean, and safe housing. Over half of the participants in self-help housing are minority households.

Both the Section 523 Grants and Section 502 Direct Loans support the Self-Help Housing program. Section 523 grants help experienced, non-profit developers provide training, supervision, and technical assistance to Self-Help Housing families. With a Section 502 Direct Loan, these families can access affordable, safe mortgages with interest rates starting at just 1 percent.

Over 100 organizations in 40 states and territories participate in the Self-Help Housing program. Because of the program, more than 3,500 families have been able to realize the American Dream in the past three years. Yet, demand for affordable, decent rural housing for very low- and low-income families continues to outpace supply; more than 50,000 families are currently on Self-Help Housing waiting lists and many rural communities have been hit hard by significant increases in worst-case housing needs.

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