The Department of Housing and Urban Development on Tuesday announced $26.8 million in “sweat equity” grants to help low-income families become homeowners. The funds are awarded to families that contribute at least 100 hours of their own labor to building or rehabilitating their own homes.

The funding is provided through HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP), which employs volunteers, experienced tradesmen and the hard work of applicants themselves.

By contributing time and their own labor, families join volunteers and contractors to construct or rehabilitate their homes. These funds will be used by three national or regional organizations and their affiliated local organizations to purchase land and make infrastructure improvements, primarily in the construction of new homes.

HUD will award the $26.8 million to the organizations based upon their experience in managing a sweat equity program. Habitat for Humanity International will receive $14 million in funds; Housing Assistance Council will receive $10 million; and PPEP Microbusiness and Housing Development Corp. will receive $2.8 million.

“This is one program that really taps into the American can-do spirit,” said HUD Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi. “With the sweat off their own brow, families will invest of themselves to realize their American Dream of home ownership.”

Self-help housing or sweat equity involves the home buyer’s participation in the construction of the housing, which can include, but is not limited to, assisting in the painting, landscaping, carpentry, trim work, drywall, roofing and siding for the housing. Labor contributed by volunteers also helps buyers who are unable to perform their sweat equity tasks due to disabilities. Persons with disabilities who are unable to perform manual labor can provide administrative support. By contributing their own labor to the construction or rehabilitation of their home, the home buyers and volunteers significantly reduce the cost of the housing.

HUD is a federal agency that implements housing policy.

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