|Apr 01, 2014 --
In the aftermath of a divorce, Debbie Mayo found herself starting over with few resources other than a positive outlook. When she learned about a program allowing her to contribute her sweat equity as down-payment on a newly built home of her own, Debbie consulted her faith. “I said, ‘if you don’t want me in this house, let me know because I’m going to go full gusto!’”
Through the USDA Rural Development Mutual Self Help Housing Program, low-income homebuyers have the opportunity to offset housing costs by completing roughly 65 percent of the construction of a new home. USDA Rural Development provides the participants with affordable home loans for the remaining balance. In addition, USDA technical assistance funding allows the local partner to qualify eligible low-income families, locate the housing development, secure contractors, and coordinate with a supervisor who trains and oversees the homebuyers during construction.
As a result, Debbie was able to put her enthusiasm to work helping construct her home and those of 12 other families moving to Green Heights Subdivision in Lafayette, Oregon. In what the local partner, Community Home Builders, calls “neighbors building neighborhoods,” the participating families were each required to contribute 30 hours each week working on each other’s homes over the course of nine months.
“You end up knowing your neighbors before you move in, and you know who to call to help you fix something,” Debbie said.
She spent weekends and two hours every night after leaving her day job to help with construction. “My favorite part was doing the post and beam,” she said. “After the concrete is poured, you build a foundation.”
The foundation Debbie built now supports much more than a house. In the fall of 2013, she moved out of a tiny apartment and into her new, 1,600-square-foot bungalow with plenty of room to visit with friends and family.
Debbie sums it up simply: “I have my life back!”