With an extra boost from 100 World Changers volunteers, the eight single-family houses being built in Sterling as part of a federal low-income housing program are taking shape and their owners hope to be in them by Christmas.
Reporting on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program at last week's Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting, area director Michelle Hoffman said, "The 100 kids who worked on the Sterling project were amazing."
She said the volunteers put a roof on one of the houses, built the walls of another, put in a floor on one and finished the siding on a fourth.
"They did whatever needed to be done," she said.
The eight houses in Sterling, being built near the corner of south Scout Lake Loop and Lou Morgan roads, range from 1,064 square-foot three-bedroom to 1,480 square-foot four-bedroom homes.
An additional 10 Rural Development homes are planned for Kenai next year.
Ground was broken for the Sterling development last fall, and construction fell behind schedule somewhat due to winter weather, according to Hoffman.
The eight families selected to own the homes are required to put in approximately 65 percent of the labor in building the houses. With the help of the World Changers volunteers, construction is nearing completion.
Hoffman told the borough assembly World Changers seeks to provide Christian youth and adults with opportunities to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others through practical learning experiences. The volunteers paid their own travel expenses to Alaska and were housed in Nikiski this summer at Lighthouse Community Church.
One requirement of the USDA housing program is that no owners may move into their homes until all eight houses are complete and ready for occupancy.
The USDA Rural Development agency works with the Rural Alaska Community Action Program, RurAL CAP.
While the houses are being built, the owners have construction loans, which will be refinanced through USDA Rural Development.
The home owners can pay as little as 1 percent interest on their loans, a subsidy which is paid back if and when they sell the house, Hoffman said.
Depending on their income level, they may also qualify for bank financing or Alaska Housing loans guaranteed by USDA.
The Mutual Self-Help Housing Loan program is used primarily to help very low and low-income households build their own homes. The program is targeted to families who are unable to buy clean, safe housing through conventional methods, Hoffman said.
Nine of 10 families have been approved for the Kenai houses which will be built in the Chinulna Point Subdivision off Kalifornsky Beach Road.
"They hope to finish next fall," Hoffman said. Ground is expected to be broken next month.
She said the homes will all be built on approximate one-acre, treed lots.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at email@example.com.
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