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Rural Development

Housing & Community Facilities Programs


Self Help Forums


Responding to President Obamas initiative for an open, transparent government, the Rural Housing Service held public forums to solicit feedback from the public on whether the current method of delivering the self-help program is the most efficient and cost effective in terms of cost and program delivery.  Questions for the forums are provided here in either PDF and MSWord formats.  Those unable to attend were able to provide written responses to as directed in the published notice.


Transparency encourages accountability by delivering information to the public about what the Government is doing.  Participation provides the public with opportunities to contribute ideas and expertise to the Government which will enable them to make sound policy decisions that represent a wider group of diverse individuals throughout society.  Collaboration improves effectiveness of the Government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the Federal Government, across levels of government, and between the Government and private institutions.


Published Notice of Public Forums or PDF Version

Updated Notice:


Forum schedule:





February 18, 2010

1:30 - 4:00 pm CST

William J. Clinton Library - Great Room

1200 President Clinton Avenue

Little Rock, AR 72201



March 5, 2010

1:00 - 4:00 pm AST

Sacred Heart University, Barat Sur Building

Crossroads Rosales and San Antonio Streets, Stop #26

San Juan, PR 00936

Puerto Rico


March 12, 2010

1:00 - 4:00 pm EST

NC State University, McKimmon Conference and Training Center

1101 Gorman Street

Raleigh, NC 27606

North Carolina


March 29, 2010*

1:00 - 4:00 pm EST

Jackson State University - Convention Hall

1230 Raymond Road 

Jackson, MS 39204



April 9, 2010

1:00 - 4:00 pm MST

Arizona State University, Downtown Campus

(PURL on the 8th floor)

234 N. Central Avenue

Phoenix, AZ  85004



April 23, 2010

1:00 - 4:00 pm EST

The Ohio State University - Main Campus

The Fawcett Event Center

2400 Olentangy River Road

Columbus, OH 43210



May 14, 2010

1:00 - 4:00 pm PST

University of Washington, Tacoma Campus

1900 Commerce Street,  BHS 106 Classroom

Tacoma, WA 98402-3100



June 4, 2010

1:00 - 4:00 pm EST



June 11, 2010

1:00 - 4:00 pm CST



June 30, 2010 *

1:00 - 4:00 pm EST

Jefferson Auditorium

USDA South Building

1400 Independence Ave SW

Washington, DC 20250

Washington, D.C.


            * indicates date change

A Brief History of Self-Help Housing

Origins of self-help housing stem from the house and barn-raisings of the Mennonite and Amish. Mutual self-help housing program has existed in various forms since the early 1930s.  The Farmers Home Administration, Rural Developments predecessor, began financing self-help homes with Section 502 funds in the mid 1960s. Section 523 Technical Assistance Grants were authorized by the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968.

The Section 523 Self-Help Technical Assistance Grant Program was implemented in 1971 and was permanently authorized in 1992. In 1979, appropriations language was amended to permit the use of Section 523 grant funds to contract for technical assistance to self-help sponsors, thus the Technical and Management Assistance (T&MA) Contractors.  Today, there are about 120 RHS self-help grantees located throughout the United States and its territories.  Some operate multiple projects and maintain multiple grants.

Intent of self-help is to assist families who otherwise could not afford a home.  In 2010, self-help remains a viable means for low-income families to obtain affordable housing.  The skills obtained in the process often lead to economic improvement and work-sharing leads to a better sense of pride of self and of their community.




Administrator's Corner
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Civil Rights