As I watched Matthew McLane’s children play in the front yard of their home, I could tell how much this family loved being homeowners. Matthew and Candice McLane became first time homebuyers through the Agency’s Mutual Self-Help Program in 2012. The couple, and their two daughters, had been living in an apartment prior to building their home through the Self-Help Housing Program. Now the couple has three children, and one more on the way this fall – and the house is filled with love and joy as the family prepares for the arrival of its newest member.
Listening to Matthew describe the self-help process, you can tell how much pride he has in his home. He describes putting his sweat, blood and tears into the home, but loving every minute of it. From learning how to hang drywall, to laying flooring or installing shingles, it was all new experiences and skills that Matthew learned. When repairs are needed to the home now, Matthew is able to do the home maintenance and repairs himself.
“We really enjoy the extra space in our house and the yard, and look forward to continuing to update the property,” said Matthew. “I have put in a lot of hours on this house, and I have respect for it and plan to take good care of it for the next 30 years.”
Last week, in honor of National Homeownership Month we recognized the City of Liberal, Kansas for being a USDA Rural Development Mutual Self-Help Partner for the last 10 years. Over the past 10 years, the city’s Self-Help Housing Program has assisted 55 families, just like the McLanes, build homes in the Liberal community.
As Karen LaFreniere, the city of Liberal’s Community and Housing Director stated, “Everyone employed by the City of Liberal is involved with the Self-Help Program. The city provides a huge support system to the program, and is committed to assisting families in our community find housing.”
It truly takes a coordinated effort to make the Self-Help Housing Program work, and the City of Liberal is doing it right. By investing in the Self-Help Housing Program, the city has provided its residents with equity in their homes, affordable mortgages, new skill sets, and a sense of community.
The Self-Help Housing Program helps builds a healthier, happier community by investing in the most important asset – people.
Homes in rural areas, towns, and small cities, like Liberal, are eligible for Rural Housing Service programs if their population is less than 20,000 as of the 2010 census. Check to see if you or your home are eligible for USDA Rural Housing Service programs on our eligibility website.