Frontier Housing Self-Help Housing.jpg

A partnership with Frontier Housing, Kentucky Bank, and the USDA has helped launch mutual self-help housing in Rowan, Bath, and Elliott counties. Pictured from left is Frontier’s Tom Manning-Beavin and Sherry Mathis, Kentucky’s Bank’s Gabe Brown and Louis Prichard, and Frontier’s Wendy Puckett.

A new self-help housing program is now taking applications after receiving a grant to help families construct homes in Rowan, Bath, and Elliott counties.

Thanks to a partnership between Frontier Housing, Kentucky Bank, and the USDA, families are being provided yet another local service to help fund new home construction.

The program, titled Mutual Self-Help Housing, enables low-income families to help build their own homes.

Mutual Self-Help Housing is a United States Department of Agriculture/Rural Development (USDA/RD) program that brings families together to cooperatively build their own homes.

Families work with others, learning valuable construction skills as they help to build their own home.

No construction experience is required because Frontier’s construction supervisor will be there every step of the way.

With the assistance of the skilled staff, a build-group constructs each home.

Working in groups of five to 12, families provide at least 65 percent of the labor necessary to build their own and each other’s homes.

Participants earn “sweat equity” that reduces the overall cost of their own homes.

The future home owners spend hours working on the houses in the evenings after work and on weekends.

Families frame the buildings, put up windows and siding, install roofing material, paint, landscape, among other tasks.

No one moves into their home until all the homes in the build group (new neighborhood) are completed.

There is property in all three counties in the project so home builders would most likely be able to select the county where they hope to reside.

Frontier said that freedom to choose also bleeds over to the house project, being able to generally select how the residence will be constructed.

The months you spend building your home can save you as much as $20,000 to $40,000, and there’s never a payment to make during construction.

Most of the families will use the USDA/RD’s 502 Direct Loan Program to finance their homes.

The loan is low-interest based which helps make the homebuyer’s monthly payment affordable.

The loan is available to low and very low-income families in rural areas with credit history.

Frontier has stated the maximum household income is around $50,000 to $60,000, depending on the county.

The Mutual Self-Help Program has seven key features:

* It encourages self-reliance and hard work for participating families and their children, who help build their homes.

* It facilitates affordable homeownership by combing affordable mortgages with savings from sweat equity to avoid high down payments.

* The program is designed to serve members of rural communities with greatest need, by exclusively targeting low to very low income families.

* The program builds wealth by serving as a tool for families to build equity by obtaining homeownership.

* The program strengthens rural communities. Because self-help families must work together to help each other build their homes, lifetime relationships are forged among new neighbors, giving each member of the family a vested interest in their community.

* It also stimulates local economies through job creation, local income, and tax payer revenue.

* There is a high demand for the continuation of this program.

Further, the Mutual Self-Help Program provides a stable environment for children, who become active in their communities, set higher goals, and reach higher levels of education.

The result of the program is an understanding of the responsibilities that come with homeownership, such as taxes, insurance, house design, and home maintenance.

Additionally, in assisting each other with the construction of their homes the families improve group problem solving skills, and by personally completing the required labor, they have a personal hand in making the project affordable.

Finally, because the Self-Help families turn into neighbors after construction is complete, by the time move-in occurs they already have established a strong community bond.

“For decades, Kentucky Bank’s partnership has been instrumental to Frontier Housing’s success,” said Tom Manning-Beavin, Frontier’s President and CEO. “We literally would not have been able to help more than 1,500 families without their support. Having Kentucky Bank supporting our work to start a self-help housing program is very exciting to us.”

Manning-Beavin pleaded for anyone interested in the program or in search of more information, to contact Frontier and speak to any of their friendly staff.

“We want to be there for you to help in your time of need,” he said. “Please reach out to us not only for this program, but any other first-time home ownership needs.”

For more information on Self-Help Housing or the multitude of other Frontier services, visit or call 784-2131.

Brad Stacy can be reached at or by telephone at 784-4116.

Recommended for you