Building a Better Future Together: USDA’s Mutual Self-Help Program

Jessica Bowser
Release Date
Aug 20, 2015

This year USDA is highlighting the 50th Anniversary of USDA’s Mutual Self-Help Housing program, and celebrating the 50,000 home built through it.  USDA has partnered with more than 100 non-profit Self-Help Housing Organizations including the city of Liberal’s Mutual Self-Help Program.

For the past nine years, USDA Rural Development has partnered with the city of Liberal’s Mutual Self-Help program to construct 51 homes. On Thursday, the Liberal Mutual Self-Help Program celebrated the completion of four homes.

Recently, the city received USDA approval for funding to construct an additional 18 homes.

“The city of Liberal’s Mutual Self-Help Program has assisted several families to build and purchase homes that they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” said USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Director, Kent Colwell.  “USDA recognizes the importance of homeownership, and values the partnership it has with the city of Liberal to help provide safe, affordable housing for residents.”

The Mutual Self-Help program provides grants to help organizations carry out housing construction projects in rural areas. These organizations supervise groups of very-low- and low-income individuals and families as they construct their own homes. The group members provide most of the construction labor on each other’s homes and get technical assistance from the organization overseeing the project.

By working with trusted local organizations, this program helps people get affordable, clean and safe homes of their own.  Homeownership provides a strong foundation to help build household wealth, start a business or fund education through home equity. Since the creation of USDA’s single-family housing programs in 1949, USDA has helped more than 3 million rural residents access the American dream of homeownership.

Since 2009, USDA invested more than $117 billion to support rural homeownership. USDA provided financing to more than 1,500 rural Kansans last year to purchase a home.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $210.5 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

Further information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by calling (785) 271-2700, or by visiting the agency’s website at