The Long Beach City Council has approved funding for a unique program that helps poor people buy their own homes--if they help to build them. The council authorized the transfer of $250,000 in city housing funds to a local branch of Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization founded by former President Jimmy Carter devoted to constructing homes around the world for poor people.
Families selected to live in the homes must spend at least 500 hours working on them. They also must work another 500 hours on homes for other families. “It’s like an old-fashioned barn-raising,” said David Reed, chairman of the local Habitat group.
Reed told the council that two lots in Long Beach are already in escrow, and that construction on the lots should begin by spring. Families already are applying for them, Reed said. A committee selects homeowners based on their need, their willingness to participate fully in the program, and their ability to repay the no-interest loan on the new houses. In Long Beach, a family of four must earn $31,100 or less to be considered low-income, and $19,450 or less to be eligible for very low-income housing.