LEEDS — The 300th house in Community Concepts’ Self-Help Homeownership Program is nearly finished on Mountain View Road and owner Lindsay Keach of Buckfield is eager to move in.

“I’m very thankful to be a part of (the program),” she said. “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and my kids.”

Keach said the program is not for those without commitment, patience and an unfailing work ethic.

The program, in its 25th year, assists low-income people in becoming homeowners through their help with construction. Groups of up to six families devote their weekends, assisted by a construction supervisor, to building each other’s houses for a year. They can’t move in until all of the houses are complete.

The families are expected to put 30 hours a week into building their homes.

“It’s a whole year of your life that you’re not going to do anything else on the weekends, and it’s hard sometimes,” Keach said. “But it’s all worth it. I learned so much. I learned how to use different tools, different saws, and how to find the studs in the walls. I can do things when I move in without any help.”

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All of the houses are three-bedroom ranches with 1¾ bathrooms on a full foundation.

“Homeowners have color choices for all of the building materials, such as siding, roofing, flooring, countertops,” said Susan Bradford, a group worker specialist at Community Concepts. “We are unable to do blueprint changes due to the inexperience of the homeowners and budget constraints.”

With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development, the program is looking for applicants for 2017.

According to a news release from Community Concepts, the program allows participants to build as much as $20,000 in equity during construction, and low monthly mortgage payments are based on income, once construction is completed.

Participants get their mortgages from Rural Development, and can get fixed-interest rates as low as 1 percent.

“Rural Development requires a credit score of 640 or better, or no current bad credit and we can use alternative credit references showing proof they have paid rent, phone, electric or other monthly bills on time for at least the last year,” Bradford said.

For more information about the program and instructions on how to apply, contact Bradford at 800-866-5588, ext. 1121, or email her at [email protected]


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