Self-Help Ground Up Construction Program Looking for Applicants


Photos courtesy of Vikki Ori

The Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments (SEUALG) Housing Rehabilitation Specialists are ready to help those in the community with their future homes through the Self Help Ground Up Construction project.

Vikki Ori, Program Manager, Michele Kelley, Program Specialist, and Tamara Dockstader, Program Coordinator, have openings in the program and are in search of those that wish to receive assistance in building their next home. Those that qualify for the program put in 65% of the sweat equity to build the home, and they are helping each other build their homes.

Ori explained that they begin with a group of four to 10 individuals or families based on rural development income limits. This program has also welcomed a new construction supervisor, Keith Cox, who has 45 years of experience working in the construction industry. Cox guides participants in the program while giving them the homebuilding skill set. He also assists with the cost breakdowns and helps participants select their plans.

It takes about 17 hours per week for the participants and they also ask for volunteer hours of 13, meaning that altogether it is 30 hours of work on the home each week. Locally, there are four homes in the works and two that are qualified for the program for the next cohort.

In terms of the qualification process, everything begins by contacting the specialists to arrange a meeting, where an application will be filled out. The files are processed and sent to rural development. Once approved, the participant receives a qualification letter.

Those that are low to very low income qualify for this self-help program. Some positive benefits include the families working together, learning a skill set that will last their lifetime and being able to get into a new home where they may not have been able to afford one otherwise.

This particular program is new to the area within the last two years. The previous and similar program was in place for nearly a decade and involved a family purchasing a home and putting sweat equity into the home. This program is also through USDA Rural Development and the Ground Up Program is another part. Because of the housing market in the area, it was decided that they would build upon the Self Help Ground Up Construction program as it has become difficult to purchase affordable acquisition rehab homes.

The current homes are being built in Price, but the program is eligible for Carbon and Emery counties at this time. SEUALG is also looking to purchase plots in Wellington and in Emery County. “We’re always looking ahead,” said Ori.

Though it is a bit up in the air on when the building will begin, due to needing all four to 10 participants, it is about 90 days to get closed and begin construction. As it does take some time to get the qualified applicants in some instances, the specialists would like to have applicants on a waiting list.

Credit does play into the qualification process, though that should not deter anyone from applying. If credit scores need improvement, the specialists give counseling on how best to do that. This is viewed as another benefit of the program as it changes mindset and helps the applicants realize that they can accomplish difficult things on their own and help themselves.

The homes that are constructed through this program are a modest first-time home build, not a custom build. The size of the home itself and the property is dependent on how many are in the family of the applicant. Those that are wishing to obtain more information or begin the application process may contact the specialists at (435) 613-0026, (435) 613-0088 or (435) 613-0029.

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