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Interest in DIY home program renewed

Staff writer

Meetings in April and May have renewed interest in a program that would allow homebuyers to work together building one another’s homes in Hillsboro.

Mennonite Housing Rehabilitation Services Inc. proposed the idea in August, but the proposal was met with tepid interest and resistance from property owners in the Willow Glen subdivision who worried it would lower their home values.

Mennonite Housing has located a couple of other prospective areas in Hillsboro, rural housing coordinator Melanie Sullivan said. If the program moves forward, the site will be determined with input from participating families.

A handful of families have shown serious interest in the program, she said. Organizers hope to begin a project during the summer. A project would be considered for four households, but five to 10 would be preferable, Sullivan said.

By working together to build the homes, families can reduce their loan amount by $20,000, earning “sweat equity.” The Kansas Housing Resource Corporation recently made $20,000 grants available for new construction, so qualifying households can build a house with a total $40,000 discount, Sullivan said.

Participants must work on the project for a total of 40 hours per week per household. Subcontractors perform technical and cosmetic work.

The organization has 14 floor plans available starting at 943 square feet. Homes have two or three bedrooms, one or two bathrooms, a two-car garage, and a full, unfinished basement.

Mennonite Housing projects take an average of six or seven months to complete. One project only took four months from start to finish, Sullivan said.

Sullivan, who was raised in Hillsboro, participated in a five-house development in Valley Center. Because of her experience, she is confident the program is a good opportunity for Hillsboro, she said.

There are income limits for families to qualify to participate in the self-help program. The limit for a family of four is $41,850.

Sullivan is available to meet with interested families. To arrange a meeting, call her at (316) 218-7895 or e-mail msullivan@mhrsi.org. Hillsboro Development Corporation Executive Director Clint Seibel can also arrange a meeting. To reach Seibel, call (620) 947-3458.

Last modified May 26, 2010

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