Self Help Forums
Responding to President Obama’s 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Updated Notice: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-8907.pdf
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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 1930’s. The Farmers Home Administration, Rural Development’s 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.