NWBRV recruiting final DIY homeowners for Pascoag neighborhood

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BURRILLVILLE – A program that has brought more than a dozen new families to Burrillville is ready to enter its final stage, and is now seeking the final eight recipients who will build their own homes, and become part of the community, in a quiet Pascoag neighborhood.

NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley’s Mutual Self Help Housing Program allows credit-qualified applicants to build their own house with help from professionals, cutting the cost of construction by at least 50 percent. The three bed, 1.5 bath houses will become part of a 30 home cul-de-sac known as the Fernwood development on George Eddy Road.

The program was founded by the USDA in 1971, has resulted in the construction of some 52,000 homes nationwide. It offers low to modest income families the unique opportunity to save money by using “sweat equity,” working in committed teams on the houses for a minimum of 30 hours per week.

In Burrillville, the project began in 2015, and by 2019, the group had erected 15 Colonial-style, single-family dwellings, complete with new occupants.

The third round program participants are currently deep in the midst of hands-on construction of their new custom homes, each of which are built on .3 acres and surrounded by preserved open space, according to a release from NWBRV.

The organization starts each phase of the project by introducing the families, and holds several group meetings and classes before they go to the actual site.

“We operate under the premise of building a neighborhood, as opposed to building one house,” NWBRV Director of HomeOwnership Daynah Williams explained in a release. “Everyone who lives in this development will have had their hands on someone else’s house in some form or fashion. No one can move in until the last house is finished. They all start together and finish together.”

Under the guidance of a qualified construction supervisor, program members complete approximately 65 percent of the construction themselves, from hanging drywall and framing, to painting and landscaping.

Future homeowner June Degre, spoke about her involvement in the program, in a release which presently includes virtual “how to” classes taught by live instructors.

“The experience has been so wonderful for my partner Cindy and me,” Degre said. “The staff and classes have been so helpful and informative. We’ve learned so much, from how to fix a pipe and build your own home, to how to save money and fix your credit. We never thought we’d be able to build or afford our own home. It’s been hard work, but beyond well worth it and the process is moving along nicely. I highly recommend this program.”

Recruitment is now underway for a fourth phase of homes, which will mark the final phase of the nearly decade-long project.

An USDA financing package is offered to qualified participants, helping shift the prospect of building a home into a financial reality with extremely low mortgage rates. Interested participants are encouraged to contact the NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center offices, where resources are available to help potential applicants meet the criteria they need in order to qualify.

“The empowerment this program offers to folks is huge. We have the time to help people get to where the need to be in order to qualify,” Williams reportedly said this week. “Most importantly, it’s about neighbors helping neighbors. Despite the negativity that exists in the world today, people still want to come together, people still want to build together. And people still want to see one another excel.”

For more information on the Mutual Self Help Housing Program, potential applicants should contact Williams at dwilliams@neighborworksbrv.org or 401-762-0993; x215.

Interested families are highly encouraged to inquire about this first come first serve program. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Classes and resources are widely available to qualified and hopeful participants.

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