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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.
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.