In this issue:

Policy update – news from DC

I was in DC last week to talk with Congressional staff about the FY18 and FY19 budgets. It is a crazy time right now. Congress is trying to finish the FY18 continuing resolution, which will take us to this fiscal year end, and to figure out where to add the $60 billion in budget authority just approved in the last continuing resolution. Read more

The Kiyunas – Hawaii Island Community Dev. Corp.

Keola and Rena Kiyuna came to the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation (HICDC) in 2003 after seeing an ad in the paper for an upcoming project. At that time, Rena learned that a co-worker had built her home through HICDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s self-help program … Read more

Dear Sher

I know the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Development office I work with has a long processing waitlist for 502 Direct applications and I’m concerned my packaged loans will stale before loan officers can even get to them. How do I turn in a packaged loan and ensure the documents are still good? Read Sher’s tip

SHARES tidbits – accessing Rural Development forms and programs: eAuthentication

To conduct official business transactions via the Internet with USDA Rural Development you’ll need access to their secure system. eAuthentication or eAuth Level 2 must be applied for and approved prior to accessing Rural Development forms, using the Mutual Self-Help SHARES reporting system and submitting 502 Loan Packages electronically. Read more


Post your self-help photos on Instagram with hashtag #selfhelphousing and connect with self-help families nationwide. Some photos will be posted on Download this flyer and share!

News you can use!

Handbook 3550-1 regulation updates through Procedure Notice (PN) 508

USDA Rural Development announced updates to Handbook-1-3550 through PN 508. These changes will streamline and improve the delivery of the Single Family Housing Direct Loan and Grant Programs. These updates will benefit customers, Rural Development staff, and stakeholders. To view a complete list of the specific revisions to the handbook, download the PN here.

4-A Income Calculator updated

A new edition of the 4-A Automated Calculator was issued on March 13, 2018 to correct a few errors. This is the second correction this month and includes fixing an error in calculating loans with a 38 year term for income banded states, Alaska and Puerto Rico income limits were not populating correctly and full time student’s income ($480) was not correctly calculating/totaling as household income. The corrected spreadsheet will be posted on the Rural Development website under the forms and resources section and also here for your use and review.

Streamlined changes to the Single Family Housing Section 504 Repair Loan and Grant Program

Determining affordability for our home repair program is now easier than ever. USDA Rural Development has changed the Section 504 Single Family Housing Repair Loan and Grant Program to determine affordability based on income and a repayment ratio instead of a monthly household budget. They’ve also streamlined the process to make the program faster and more efficient. USDA can reach more rural homeowners living in extreme poverty. Download this flyer to see the changes.

RCAC self-help rehab website

Join RCAC’s SharePoint self-help rehab site to see best practices, find resources, ask questions and share your stories. Already a member? Check out the newly uploaded 504 grant/loan side-by-side comparison to comprehensively show the updates to Chapter 12 in the 3550 handbook.

Access the site here:

If you have not already signed up for the rehab site, email Harold Branch at or Michele Weaver to get invited today!

RCAC is hiring

Do you have housing, project management and community development skills? Do you want a job that provides plenty of opportunities to learn and grow? Work with our team and help increase affordable housing in rural communities across the West. The RDS will primarily provide training and technical assistance to mutual self- help housing grantees, to help them meet the deliverables under their Section 523 Mutual Self-Help Housing grants from USDA. RCAC staff works with grantees and Rural Development staff to ensure the smooth implementation and management of grants, identifying obstacles and process improvements that will ensure the grantee’s success. Visit RCAC’s Careers page for the full job description.


RCAC’s Self-Help Builder News is funded by USDA Rural Development

The newsletter is published quarterly for the western region self-help network at no cost to subscribers. We encourage correspondence and contributions.

Stanley Keasling, chief executive officer

Angela Sisco, executive editor

Sharon Wills, managing editor

Editorial office, West Sacramento, CA (916) 447-2854

Stay updated. Stay informed. Join the newsletter >>