The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development joined Milford Housing Development Corporation (MHDC), to celebrated June as National Homeownership Month with a ‘work day’ event on Sharps Road in Milford, DE on Monday, June 24. Approximately 60 volunteers from Catholic Heart Work Camp, Discover Bank, Lank Johnson & Tull, USDA Rural Development, and MHDC helped build components, walls, and install flooring on two current self-help housing participants in celebration of Homeownership Month.
MHDC offers the Self-Help Program as an alternative path to homeownership for families who might otherwise not be eligible through a more traditional avenue. Working in small groups of families, participants help build one another’s homes together over a year-long construction process for 30 hours each week.
I’m learning a lot that I thought I would never be able to do,” commented Paula Puello who was given the opportunity to own a home for herself and two children during this year’s Homeownership Month. “I thought it would be so difficult but I am actually enjoying it.”
Ms. Puello, age 40 from Milford, is now living in the MHDC home she help built with her three-year-old daughter Yosuel and eight-year-old son Fernando. Wanting to provide a stable environment for her children, Paula attempted to acquire a loan through local banks for a home to no avail. She credits the MHDC with giving her the opportunity to “give a better life to her children”.
“It’s a great, huge opportunity for us, I never thought we would own a home,” commented Paula. “It is a dream come true. For my kids they will have better lives because they have a stable home to grow up.”
Serving very-low to moderate-income individuals in Kent and Sussex Counties, the average income of participating households is $27,272 (roughly 40% of Area Median Income) and 32 participating households have an average annual income below $20,000. Over 60 households are currently working with the MHDC Self-Help Program and 23 housing units are currently under construction.
“We have been a Mutual Self-Help organization since 1997,” David Moore, President of MHDC said. “MHDC averages about 10 homes per year and has assisted over 165 families; I think that is something that Rural America and Rural Delaware should be really proud of. That is 165 homeowners saying I’m going to give up my nights and weekends, I’m going to give up seeing some of my friends and family on the weekends and homeownership is going to be important for myself today and in the future.”
Speakers at Monday’s event included USDA Rural Development National Director David Sandretti, USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Kathy Beisner, and MHDC President/CEO David Moore. Also in attendance was Kate Rohrer representing Senator Chris Coons, State Representative Harvey Kenton, and State Representative Dave Wilson.