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Self-help programs

Self-help programs (also called sweat-equity programs) increase the affordability of housing by combining charitable donations and a homeowner’s own labor to produce or renovate housing. Perhaps the most widely known program is Habitat for Humanity. Many state agencies participate in such programs by providing below-market rate mortgages for the new homeowners. Local jurisdictions can promote these self-help efforts to increase affordable homeownership options.

Case Studies

Denver, Colorado

Denver Hapitat for Humanity Project

Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver broke ground in early 2010 on its first transit-oriented affordable development in Denver's Virginia Village neighborhood, within a half mile of the Southeast Corridor light rail. The Bails Townhome Community, consisting of 24 for-sale townhomes at a development cost of $3.4 million, will be built largely by volunteer labor. Qualifying families make a down payment and contribute 250-500 hours of sweat-equity to help build their own home, as well as the homes of other Habitat families. The homes are sold at no profit to Habitat and with a no-interest loan. Families, which generally earn 35-50% of area median income, also participate in Home Buyer Education classes, which help foster increased economic independence and self-reliance.