Self Help

Peoples' Self-Help Housing gets families into new homes – Paso Robles Press

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Peoples’ Self-Help Housing threw a block party for the Mission Gardens neighborhood in San Miguel on Friday, March 8, welcoming 10 new low-income homeowners to town.

Each received the keys to the new home they helped build on Wimer Way and a gift basket.

“It’s almost like it’s not real,” said single-mother Yvette Nevarez, who is ready to stop renting a home in Shandon and looking forward to decorating her new home.

Nevarez has four children. For the past year, she and her oldest daughter spent every weekend at the site helping build the home from the ground up. The pair put in more than 2,000 hours of “sweat equity” into the four-bedroom home. They participated in nearly all of the construction with the exception of highly specialized work that is contracted to licensed professionals.

“Eye-opening,” Yvette Nevarez said recalling the build. “Not anything what I expected. Super hard. We got here and it was mud. I didn’t even know how to swing a hammer. We learned a lot. Now I can feel like I can build something, which may be helpful. Can’t call the landlord anymore.”

PSHH is a nonprofit organization founded in San Luis Obispo County that helps create affordable housing along the Central Coast. For nearly 50 years, PSHH has helped people reach their goal of homeownership.

“It is so impressive and so inspiring to all of us to see your hard work on top of everything else that is going on in your lives and finish your homes in about a year,” said Kenneth Trigueiro, executive vice president of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing.

Each household contributed approximately 2,000 hours of “sweat equity.” PSHH acts as a supervisor guiding and supporting the group of families through the construction process. Also through their “sweat equity,” each household reduces its costs by 20-25 percent and fulfills their down payment.

Sheryl Flores, vice president of homeownership of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing, said the houses were probably worth close to $400,000. The “sweat-equity” took the place of the down payment.

“The families borrowed from about $290,000 to $3-something, so they all have at least $70,000 sweat-equity,” Flores said.

During the process, PSHH helps owner-builders learn about loan qualification and financing as well as providing support and counseling after the completion of their house.

Construction and mortgage funding is provided through the Rural Housing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This is the first of four groups participating in the 39-home Mission Gardens development. Applicants needed to meet income requirements between $40,000 and $66,550 for a family of four or less or $87,850 for a household of five or more. Good credit and rental history are also required along with the ability to commit to working approximately 40 hours a week mostly on weekends on the construction of their home. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

This is the second PSHH project in San Miguel. Not long ago, 24 homes were built west of the houses on Wimer Way.

Nevarez, who learned about Peoples’ Self-Help Housing’s owner-builder program, said she would do it again.

“It’s hard work, but definitely rewarding and worth it,” she said.

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