By Erika Holzhauer, RCAC rural development specialist  

Marshall Islands located on the globe.About 4,800 miles off the shores of Seattle, Marshall Islands Development Bank (MIDB) recently celebrated the completion of 100 self-help homes. The Marshall Islands, officially the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), is an island country located near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, slightly west of the international date line. The RMI is a presidential republic in free association with the U.S., with the U.S. providing defense, subsidies and access to U.S. based agencies including U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Rural Development.

MIDB established its Mutual Self-Help Housing program 10 years ago, funded by USDA Rural Development and the RMI government. The grantee has successfully managed and completed five 523 technical assistance grants and is currently working on its sixth grant, with seven homes under construction in Majuro, RMI’s capital. Ninety-eight percent of the homebuilders are very low-income families as the minimum wage in RMI is $2.50 per hour. MIDB’s Mutual Self-Help Housing program is the only affordable housing program in the RMI.

The celebration included local foods and MIDB staff and self-help homeowners’ children who performed traditional dances. Among those in attendance were U.S. Ambassador Armbruster, USDA Rural Development Area Director Mr. Diego, and the Minister of Resources and Development for RMI Mr. Alfred. Stanley Keasling, RCAC chief executive officer and Erika Holzhauer, RCAC rural development specialist also attended. The owner-builders, MIDB’s Board of Directors and government officials, including the newly elected President Dr. Hilda Heine, toured the homes currently under construction and celebrated this tremendous accomplishment.

Congratulations MIDB and the 100 families who made this milestone possible!