By Michele Weaver, RCAC rural development specialist

A little more than a year after Administrative Notice 4831 Guidance for Acquisition and Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Projects was released, there is still strong interest in the rehab component of the self-help program. Nationwide, there are eight organizations actively administering an acquisition program and 12 organizations participating in an owner occupied model. Fluctuating market conditions that impact cost and availability of land, and blighted owner occupied homes make this an added advantage to an operating self-help grantee’s sustainability.

Typically, in a self-help acquisition rehab program, a homeowner prequalifies by becoming approved/eligible by Rural Development and then finds a market home in need of renovation. Once a home is identified, the grantee organization will assess the home for health and safety repairs to determine if the project is feasible. In the self-help program spirit, the new homeowner will earn equity so it is important for grantees to consider the number of renovation work hours the new owners can contribute compared to the cost of the necessary repairs, as well as other ideas to build in cost savings and create a benefit to the family.

With participants living in the homes, owner occupied rehab programs can be challenging but grantees administering the programs report successfully repaired roofs, replaced windows and exterior siding, and remodeled bathrooms with ADA accessible floor plans.

By using a combination of 502 loans, 504 loans and grants, weatherization funds, and state dollars, established and new grantees are responding to their service areas’ changing needs and taking advantage of the self-help rehabilitation component. For more information you can access AN 4831 and call your technical assistance provider to ask questions.