- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - A new program in South Hutchinson will build homes for low-income families who help with the construction and Reno County officials are planning to expand the program to families with moderate incomes.

The program being coordinated by Interfaith Housing Services is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is restricted to communities of fewer than 35,000 residents and families must meet low-income guidelines to be eligible. For example, a family of four cannot have income of more than $44,000 a year.

The families will help each other and professional contractors build their homes by providing 20-30 hours of “sweat equity” per week, essentially a down payment worth about $30,000 toward the cost of their $150,000 homes, The Hutchinson News reported (https://bit.ly/1r7EZ1v ).

The program is new in the county but the city of Liberal has had a similar program with USDA assistance for several years.

“These owners won’t know what they’re going to do that day,” said Mark Borecky, whose company will be construction supervisor. “We’ll have a schedule, of course. But they’ll all show up and work on that house that day, and then the next one another day.”

The families will be taught how to make minor repairs and how to maintain their homes.

All the houses will have about 1,250 square feet, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the main floor. One house will be slab construction but the other three houses will have unfinished basements, large enough for two more bedrooms, another family room and room for a third bathroom.

Three more lots, donated by the Partridge Community Church, are available to qualifying families in Partridge.

Interfaith and South Hutchinson are working on a similar program for moderate income families, who make up to $96,000 for a family of four. Those houses will be identical to the first four but be built in a new subdivision, where 20 acres are being subdivided into lots for 62 homes.

South Hutchinson City Administrator Matt Stiles said the city should be pouring concrete for streets in that subdivision next March and then build the first 20 homes.

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, https://www.hutchnews.com

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