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NeighborWorks Umpqua “sweat equity” service to help people get into homes

March 17, 2018 GMT

A local nonprofit will help people build their way to affordable homeownership through “sweat equity.”

NeighborWorks Umpqua has announced open enrollment for a DreamBuilders service that offers a self-help, “sweat equity” approach to homeownership. Applicants who are approved for the program will learn to build their own homes under the supervision of a skilled construction manager.

Groups of families will work side-by-side, building each other’s homes and lowering the price to own a home. They will end up owning a home that will build equity with an affordable mortgage payment. Qualified participants will receive a low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development for the remaining cost of the homes.

“This gives us a nice, affordable way for people to reach homeownership,” said Nick Noyes, a spokesman for NeighborWorks Umpqua.

During the next two years, NeighborWorks Umpqua hopes to add more than 15 new homes through DreamBuilders, starting with five homes this year in Myrtle Creek, and as many as 10 next year in Roseburg.

NeighborWorks Umpqua said it is bringing back the program permanently with a goal of building 10-12 homes a year. The program previously built 40 homes from 2004 to 2008. Noyes said the nonprofit stopped offering the program while it built capacity to support it.

“This has been a work in progress for the last couple of years, making sure we have the capacity to make it a full-time thing we can do year-to-year,” Noyes said.

The homes will be contemporary ranch style developed by a local architect, Dallas Horn, ranging in size from 1,000 to 1,300 square feet with a garage. Rodgers Engineering updated the home plans to ensure they meet building codes.

A NeighborWorks Umpqua director said the program builds on the nonprofit’s promise to be a collaborative partner with rural communities.

“DreamBuilders really builds on our promise to be collaborative partners with our rural communities in issues related to housing, finance and community,” Director of Acquisitions and Development Brian Shelton-Kelley said, in a press release. “NeighborWorks Umpqua recognized a statewide need for an additional entry point for homeownership. DreamBuilders hopes to be that permanent solution for families and individuals looking to achieve homeownership but maybe are not able to achieve this dream through conventional means.”

The DreamBuilders service is offered through USDA’s Self-Help Housing Program, which relies on participants building their own homes to keep construction costs down. Participants must be willing to contribute a minimum of 30 hours per week for approximately 8 to 12 months. For more information on how to qualify or to apply for DreamBuilders, visit www.nwumpqua.org/dreambuilders or call 541-673-4909.