HUD is awarding $24.8 million in so-called “sweat equity grants” to four national and regional organizations through the Department’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program, the agency announced Wednesday.

Pamela Patenaude, HUD’s assistant secretary, said the grants will benefit about 1,500 families. She announced the grant program as she joined Habitat for Humanity volunteers in constructing 15 affordable homes in Covington, La.

The homes are being reassembled throughout the Gulf Coast region and will eventually provide affordable housing for hurricane evacuees, HUD announced.

“This funding not only helps families to purchase their first home, but taps into their own sweat equity to make them feel more invested in their new neighborhood,” Patenaude saud. “With a little investment and elbow grease, great things can happen and our SHOP program is proof of that.”

The following nonprofit organizations were awarded grants: ACORN Housing Corp., $572,000; Community Frameworks, $4.5 million; Housing Assistance Council, $9 million; and Habitat for Humanity International, $10.8 million.

The grants are provided to national and regional nonprofit organizations that have experience in providing self-help housing. These funds are used to purchase land and make improvements on infrastructure, which together may not exceed an average investment of $15,000 per dwelling, according to the announcement.

These non-profit organizations propose to distribute the money to hundreds of local affiliates that will acquire the land, select home buyers, coordinate home buyer and volunteer efforts, and assist in the arrangement of interim and permanent financing for the home buyers.

Home buyers contribute a minimum of 100 hours of sweat equity on the construction of their homes and/or the homes of other home buyers participating in the local self-help housing program. 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, carpentry, trim work, drywall, roofing and siding for the housing, the announcement states.

Labor contributed by volunteers also helps buyers who are unable to perform their sweat equity tasks due to disabilities or other reasons. Frequently persons with disabilities are able to substitute tasks by performing administrative tasks. The sweat equity and labor contributions by the home buyers and volunteers significantly reduce the cost of the housing.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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