Housing Hope program first in U.S. to build on tribal land

  • Thursday, October 30, 2008 12:02pm

The Tulalip Tribes has dedicated five lots on the Tulalip Reservation to Housing Hope’s Self Help Housing Program, with potential for adding more lots in the future. This is the first time a USDA-funded program such as this has broken ground on tribal lands in the country. It is expected the Mission Highlands project will be used as a model in other parts of the United States.

“Self Help Housing is a wonderful opportunity for tribal members to not only become homeowners, but to be a participant in building their own beautiful home,” said Tulalip Tribal Chairman Mel Sheldon. “Through their labor and craftsmanship, our people will gain a tremendous sense of pride in their own homes. Once we have the experience from these first five families we are looking at expanding the self-help housing program to provide more opportunity to our membership.”

Five owner-builder families began the building process on Oct. 4. Housing Hope, in conjunction with the Tulalip Tribes, held an official groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 30 to honor the five families and to recognize the distinctive partnership between the Tulalip Tribes, Housing Hope and USDA that is making the project possible.

“We are very excited for these five Tulalip families in becoming homeowners”, said Housing Hope Executive Director Ed Petersen. “This is a significant commitment for each of them that will bring great rewards”

Self Help Housing is a federal rural housing program assisting low-income families in their goal of home ownership. It trades “sweat equity” home building labor in exchange for subsidized low-interest loans with no down payment, and low monthly mortgage payments with very low default rates. These favorable loan terms, along with an available zero-interest purchase assistance financing, can qualify families with incomes as low as $32,000.

Program participants are required to spend a minimum of 25 hours per week building their own homes, 10 of which can be done by volunteers. Qualifying families cannot qualify for any other type of financing, and they cannot currently own a home. Homes take approximately one year to build, and no one can move in until all homes in the new community are finished.

Loan packaging and construction training and supervision are made available by Housing Hope at no cost to applicants.

Financing for home construction at Mission Highlands is by:

• United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, which provides financing of approximately $132,000 – $139,000 to each of the Self Help families at Mission Highlands. The mortgage program is unique in that it can only be offered to low-income families in rural areas. It requires no down payment or no out-of-pocket expenses for closing costs. Payments can be amortized over 33 or 38 years at a fixed rate that is competitive with other 30-year mortgages.

• USDA Technical Assistance – Housing Hope receives approximately $26,335 per family from USDA Technical Assistance to put the entire loan process together for the families and to provide a full-time site supervisor to help the families build their own homes.

• Tulalip Tribes, which provides the land and sub-division improvements.

• Federal Home Loan Bank, which provides a subsidy of approximately $15,998 per family for lot and utility infra-structure costs.

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