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The USDA Self Help Model. Extending your reach to the nearly Unreachable. Key Players. T&MA orgs. USDA. Grantees. Families. The Grant & the Loan. A Section 523 USDA Technical Assistance grant, for two years, is available to non-profits, tribes or government entities.

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the usda self help model

The USDA Self Help Model

Extending your reach to the nearly


key players
Key Players






the grant the loan
The Grant & the Loan
  • A Section 523 USDA Technical Assistance grant, for two years, is available to non-profits, tribes or government entities.
  • Section 502 USDA loans are available to those at or below 80% of AMI. This is a one-step construction to perm loan.
the grantee
The Grantee
  • Program management
  • Staff
  • Recruit eligible families
  • Acquire suitable building sites
  • Teach families to build their homes as a group
  • Track each family’s loan expenditures
  • Control & direct families & subcontractors
  • Learn and hone new skills
  • Commit to minimum of 30 hours per week per household
  • Work cooperatively on all houses
  • Follow the direction of the Construction Supervisor
  • Review requests for payments to suppliers and subcontractors
  • This program changes lives!
  • The participants have to be truly committed; have to learn to:

Budget their time (and money)

Set goals and achieve them

Have pride in what they have accomplished

Work together as a team

Break many habits

Make decisions as a team

Endure: weather, setbacks, fatigue, etc.


usda instructions regulations
USDA Instructions & Regulations

Instructions (1944-I, among others)

Procedure Notices

Administrative Notices


and more

two stage grant
Two-stage Grant
  • Pre-development Grant ($10,000)

Feasibility Study

Organizational Capacity/Experience

Establish number of homes to build

Determine land available

Marketing plan to reach families

pre development cont d
Pre-development (cont’d)
  • Preliminary program budget (2 year)

Roughly 15% of a modest new home times the number of homes to be built

$170K X .15=$25.5K X 16 yields

a total 2 year grant of $408,000

full grant application
Full Grant Application
  • Recruit families- must be 80% of AMI or below, 40% must be at or below 50%
  • Secure buildable lots
  • Develop house plans, spec’s and budgets
  • Hire Staff
  • Package loans
  • Formulate Group Labor Agreement (Families must perform 65% of labor)
  • Construction Process
    • Train, supervise, schedule subs
    • Track Family Hours
    • Order Materials, track expenses
    • Quarterly Reviews with RD

Funds used vs Budgeted

Construction Schedule

grant closeout
Grant Closeout
  • Five criteria:
  • Meet all 5 = Outstanding
  • Meet at least 3 = Acceptable
  • Number of houses actually constructed
  • 40% very low income served
  • Meet the 65% family labor requirement
  • Did TA costs remain within budget
  • Meet all other terms of grant agreement
positive results
Positive Results
  • Families learn lots of building skills
  • Families have neighbors that will watch their homes when they are away
  • Schools have a more stable enrollment
  • New jobs have been created due to amount of subcontract labor hired and material purchased
  • Families tend to be more participative in community
  • Neighborhood will be well maintained
  • Community receives more tax money
  • Families earn great deal of respect from community
  • Great deal of money flows through local economy
four t ma contractors
Four T&MA Contractors
  • Florida Non-Profit Housing, Inc. (FNPH) (863) 385-2519
  • Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Inc. (LDCAA) (580) 326-5165
  • National Council of Agricultural Life and Labor Research Fund, Inc. (NCALL) (302) 678-9400
  • Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) (916) 447-2854