Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments Press Release
The Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments (SEUALG) makes a difference in the lives of Carbon and Emery county residents by administering the USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) Self Help Ground Up Construction Program, which offers the great American dream of home ownership.
At a time when a shortage of affordable housing is at an all time high and construction costs have soared out of control, the first group of Self-Help participants launched construction on the first four homes to be built under the care and supervision of TH Poloni of CASA BELLA ENTERPRISES, INC. in January of this year. Poloni has brought his years of knowledge and his ability to navigate the challenging times that are being experienced with the current high construction costs, material supply delays and a shortage of affordable qualified contractors.
His wife Lynda, who assists with securing the pricing and materials, jumped on the appliance packages, obtaining them back in February, securing them in budget so the delays do not affect the projects. She also coordinates the meetings with the local cabinet builder, Greg Poulos from Klassy Wood Design, to obtain bids. Lynda compares them to Lowe’s and other cabinet suppliers, making it possible for these clients to receive custom built cabinetry for less than the big box stores out of the area charge, with the participants’ best interest in mind, and always keeping these in budget.
“None of this is an easy task under the current market conditions we are experiencing,” stated Barbara Fausett, the Program Manager at SEUALG. “The Poloni’s have been key to keeping these homes going and within the amount of money we have to work with.”
As it exists, this is a program that a regular contractor would not earn a profit from. Therefore, the agency and participants are fortunate to have a qualified contractor such as Poloni, which allows the program to exist in its present form. He carries the participants’ best interest in mind by keeping a daily pulse on the cost and availability of construction materials. Waiting out the astronomical lumber price increases that have taken place in the last year, he was able to bring the participants’ lumber packages in on budget as prices finally dropped, bringing the total price for lumber down $7,000.
Utilizing local hardware stores and getting the best pricing for the participants, Poloni makes available all the materials needed on the project and works with the participants in the evenings and on the weekends when they are available to work on their homes. Not many contractors would spend their evenings and weekends working to help families like this, while teaching them how to build their own homes.
Since the projects began early in the year, some may wonder why things aren’t moving as fast as a project built solely by a contractor and subcontractor would, but when one takes all these factors into consideration, one can see the Self-Help Program is just that; one where the participants help themselves and do the work on weekends and evenings, not one where contractors work on it all day and all week long.
These projects do not compare to the custom construction loan one can get at a bank. Instead, it is a USDA loan that finances 100 percent of the cost to build, including the lot purchase. It also amortizes over either a 33 or 38 year term, which qualifies the participants for a larger loan amount than they could qualify for with conventional financing and without the usual 20 percent down payment requirement. There is also no origination fee or mortgage insurance premium and, depending on the participant’s income level, there could possibly be a subsidy allowing for a more affordable payment as well.
“The eligible participants of this program are very fortunate to have this opportunity as they will garner a good amount of sweat equity when they complete their homes,” explained Fausett. “That future equity is estimated between 15-20 percent, without having to put down any cash up front, and with a strong commitment toward building not only their home, but assisting each other in building the other homes to make these projects happen.”
In addition, the program was able to access a post grant from Price City to help pay the utility connection fees to help absorb cost overruns that would have reduced the scope of work by eliminating the landscape funding and an appliance package, and which brought the budget into balance.
“This program takes a lot of commitment from taking on a task most participants have never done before, learning new skills and obtaining the knowledge to maintain their new homes,” said Fausett. “It is called ‘Self-Help’ because they are doing this work for themselves and others in the program. This concept will be recognized by participants and others as one of the greatest things they ever did for their future financial well being. Overcoming the challenges that all construction brings, this program will soon find these four groups of participants living happily ever after in the comfort of their ‘Home Sweet Home.’”
SEUALG is committed to help these participants down this road and through the challenges construction brings to obtain their dream of home ownership. The agency has a contract with the USDA to build up to 10 homes over a two-year period with a minimum group of four. There are still opportunities for additional participants in the next group, which will be starting soon.
If interested, contact Barbara Fausett, program manager, at (435) 613-0026, for more information.