Wall raising, Williams, CA

Mutual self-help housing

In the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing program, low-income borrowers work together under the guidance of a nonprofit public housing entity (self-help grantee) to build each others’ homes. With a construction supervisor on site, these building groups perform at least 65 percent of the construction work required (known as “sweat equity”) to build their homes. In most cases, the grantee also manages the construction loans, develops the building site, provides homeownership training, offers building plans, qualifies the borrower for his/her mortgage and markets the program in the service area.

Under the USDA contract, RCAC assists grantees in the western United States to successfully complete the production of single-family financed housing under the Mutual Self-Help Housing program. (See the Self-Help Western Region Grantee Guide.) RCAC coordinates all activities with USDA staff and regularly reports on each grantee’s activity and performance production. Currently, RCAC provides technical assistance to 50 active program grantees.

RCAC provides training and technical assistance to grantees in topics such as:

  • Agency and Fiscal Management
  • Construction Management
  • Participant Loan Finance Packaging
  • Community Outreach and Family Marketing
  • Homeownership Training
  • USDA Rules and Regulations
  • Grant and Family Loan Bookkeeping
  • 523 Application Samples and Review
  • Board and Staff Training
  • Program Development
  • Data and Quarterly Program Reporting
  • Accessing other project financial resources

RCAC provides additional resources through annual, regional self-help housing conferences and statewide meetings on land development, loan packaging, construction supervision and other related topics at the request of the grantees and USDA Rural Development.

Individuals interested in becoming self-help program participants can learn more about the program here.

Home Energy Confirmed Ratings (HERS) and Energy Audits

RCAC staff can perform projected ratings or energy audits for house plans in any state within RCAC’s region.

If you would like to contact an RCAC housing staff member, refer to our staff directory on the contact page or email: homeownership_options@rcac.org.