Where: Alaska

Issue: Low-income Alaskans lack access to affordable housing

Outcome: RCAC provides training to expedite US Department of Agriculture (USDA) 502 single family direct loan processing and improve self-help housing program management

Rural Alaska Community Action Program (RurAL CAP) works to improve the lives of low-income Alaskans, including increased access to affordable housing. The nonprofit organi­zation participates in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Mutual Self- Help Program, which provides home ownership options for low-income families. Participants in the program provide ‘sweat-equity,’ working 35 hours per week for more than a year to build their own and their neighbors’ homes in exchange for an affordable mortgage through the 502 Direct Loan program. Participants perform this work while also holding down regular, full-time jobs.

RCAC provides technical assistance and financing to nonprofit organizations like RurAL CAP to implement the self-help housing program. RCAC works with these organizations to resolve program management and program implementation issues and meet key performance milestones.

RCAC and USDA Rural Development presented a three-day National Section 502 Certification training course to help expedite loan application processing. RurAL CAP staff participated and passed the online exam and as a result, they are better prepared to package 502 loan applications. In two cases, applications that would previously have been denied were approved after staff identified problems and helped the applicants to correct them.

RuralCAP has built 59 single-family homes through the self-help program, with 10 homes currently under construction.

“Local officials have praised RurAL CAP and the self-help program for the high quality of the homes and the contribution to the local economy and tax base,”said Mitzi Barker Director, Planning & Construction Division, RurAL CAP.