By Dave Ferrier, director, Housing Programs

Dave FerrierThe first Mutual Self-Help Housing conference in more than five years was held in Albuquerque February 4 – 6 and it was a tremendous success; with more than 400 attendees, significant participation from our USDA partners as well as tremendous guest speakers. I was overwhelmed by the positive energy generated by this group.

National Rural Housing Coalition’s executive director, Bob Rapoza, presented on the federal budget status for fiscal year 2021 and he commented that, in his 30 plus years in the industry, he had never seen such a large group of self-helpers all in one place.

The USDA Rural Development staff panel was energetic, enthusiastic and even included a quick spinning dance from Andrea Hively! USDA’s staff is so positive about the program’s status and its future that I am even more optimistic about our prospects moving forward.

Finally, a great highlight for me was University of Louisville professor, Tracy K’Meyer, who is working on a book documenting the Mutual Self-Help Program history. Tracy shared several stories I had not heard before in my 35 years in this business, including the program’s roots going back to the 1930s.  It was moving and inspiring.  A tremendous event!