Program helps families finance homes by helping build them


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SMITHFIELD -- For many families, home ownership feels like an unachievable dream. But in Northern Utah, 32 families are moving into homes they themselves built.

How do you know if you're are eligible?
• Have an adequate and dependable income that does not exceed the county limits.
• Be a U.S. citizen or be legally admitted to the United States for permanent residence.
• Demonstrate adequate repayment ability.
• Have a good credit history that indicates a willingness to meet obligations when they become due.

On a tour of her new home, Shannon Ward can point out every doorknob, every light fixture. That's because she installed them herself.

Shannon and her husband Brad spent the past seven months building not only their home, but also their Smithfield neighborhood as part of the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program. It provides families that otherwise couldn't afford homes with the opportunities to work as a construction team with others in the program.

No one moves in until every home is complete. They put in a minimum of 35 hours a week.

"We've looked for five years to try to buy and nothing around we could afford," said Brad Ward. "This was the best way to get equity in a home and be able to afford a home."

In nine years, 215 homes have been built. Not one of them has gone into foreclosure

Each family was recognized for the hours they put into their community -- some topping more than 1,400 hours.
Each family was recognized for the hours they put into their community -- some topping more than 1,400 hours.

"When you spend nine months of your life building a home and a dream and realizing it, at the end you're not going to walk away, you're going to take care of it," said Executive Director of the Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation Kim Datwyler.

At a celebration Wednesday, each family was recognized for the hours they put into their community -- some topping more than 1,400 hours.

Then, friends and family toured all the houses, taking note of every choice -- the floor plans, lots, colors and carpet.

"It's exciting," Brad Ward said. "A new place, new friends."

Mostly, visitors recognized exactly what went into the construction -- an example to the community that hard work not only builds character, it builds a home.

Not all of the 32 homes are in Smithfield. They are also scattered among neighborhoods in Corrine and Nibley, and they are all Energy Star rated.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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Sarah Dallof

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