Flood Victims Given Second Chance


After various homes were condemned following the 2014 flooding of Pillings Trailer Court, many residents had nowhere to turn. The prospect of buying a new home was outlandish to most, but the dream became reality for the Nielsen family.

Thanks to the Self-Help Acquisition Rehabilitation Program, the Nielsens have purchased and completely renovated a home in Helper. Last week, the family displayed their hard work at an open house.

The program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered locally through the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments. The program provides loans in rural areas to eligible applicants with low very incomes and allows people to purchase an existing house, purchase and repair existing housing, purchase a building site and construct a dwelling, or purchase new housing within a certain budget. For the Nielsens, the family purchased a home and then completed $14,000 of renovations.

“They purchased this home here for $119,000 and they added $14,000 in repairs to it,” said Barbara Fausett, Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments Housing Program Manager. “They made the home like brand new.”

With help from contractor Jeff Hoel, the family spent over three months renovating the home. The Nielsens painted, repaired stairs and cabinets, laid carpet, tile and other flooring, and even built a carport. The family also repurposed various items throughout the home, including cabinets, hinges, trim and even a furnace from their old, flooded home.

“I personally was putting in about 95 hours a week,” John Nielsen explained. He was out of work due to shoulder surgery but still managed countless renovations in the three-month period.

Throughout the renovations, the Nielsens were not required to make monthly payments. The self-help program also does not require a down payment. This allows families to focus on renovations even while having to pay for housing elsewhere. Then, when renovations are complete, families can move in to their new home and begin payments. The Nielsens made their biggest change to the house recently, moving their belongings into the home.

“When bad stuff happens, many people just stay down and out,” Fausett said. “The Nielsens didn’t do that. They got back up and worked hard to come back from what happened.”

The local program is available to residents in Carbon and Emery counties. For more information, including qualifications for applications, please call Fausett at (435) 637-5444 ext. 406 or email her at bfausett@seualg.utah.gov

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