The seven families participating in the seventh group of the Self-Help Housing Program officially break ground Tuesday at 806 S. Seward – the site of their future homes. L&T photo/Jessica Crawford
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
The seventh group of families participating in the Self Help Housing Program broke ground Tuesday evening at 806 S. Seward. The USDA funded program has aided many Liberal residents to become homeowners.
Housing and Community Development Director Karen LaFreniere said the families go through a rather rigorous qualification process. Information pertinent to approval include acceptable credit, completed home buyer education, good work history and participants must be able to work 30 hours a week on their homes.
LaFreniere added families not only work on the construction of their own home, but each group works together to construct all homes.
Construction Supervisor Don Warren has enjoyed his position within the program for the nearly four years.
“It has been fun – it’s a good job,” Warren said. “After three-and-a-half years now, I have everyone’s name in my phone book.
“It is a rewarding job,” he continued. “The people are pretty good to help. Most of them, they just do a really good job. The kids grow up together and everything.”
LaFreniere explained just how the grant, provided by USDA for $288,000, has been awarded to the City of Liberal.
“It’s not a yearly thing, it is one grant for $288,000 for two years – this is our second one,” LaFreniere said. “We have been approved for our third as well.
“It’s not a renewal, it is an application,” she explained. “We have to keep applying for it – it is a competitive process, it is not a gauranteed thing.”
Liberal continues to be competitive by having qualified applicants and individuals available to oversee the entire grant process – from applicant approval to construction, LaFreniere said.
This particular group of families, LaFreniere said, was able to be extended from four families to seven.
“This is the seventh group we have had,” she said. “We will have seven families this time, we had a little bigger group. We had four in our first group, then we were able to add three more. We had people qualified and we wanted to go ahead and let them start.”
LaFreniere added this is the third group involved in the second grant received from USDA, and will be the last group for this particular grant. However, the City of Liberal has already been approved for Grant No. 3.
“We will be doing 19 homes instead of 18,” she said. “ When we are finished with this grant, we will have built 37 homes in three different neighborhoods – approximately $4 million in construction since beginning in 2007.”