Tulare County Association of Realtors Gives Back

Photo courtesy Tulare County Association of Realtors.
Photo courtesy Tulare County Association of Realtors.

The Tulare County Association of Realtors (TCAR) came out with Self-Help Enterprises on Wednesday, March 11 to help 12 Tulare families build their own homes. Self-Help Enterprises is a community development organization working together with low-income families to build and sustain healthy communities. The organization selected 12 families to participate in their Tulare project.

Self-Help Enterprises has a long-term working relationship with the City of Tulare. When the latest 12 homes are completed, it will make a total of 138 homes built in Tulare since the first Self-Help houses were constructed there in 1975.

A total of 65 realtors showed up on to help build the homes. Scott Ellis, president of the association, said that the realtors love giving back to the community, especially when it involves helping people achieve the dream of home ownership. He said that the association has about 800 realtors and many of them are involved in nonprofits that are active in the community.

This is the second Self-Help project that TCAR has helped build. Last year a group of realtors volunteered for the day at the Goshen housing development next to Peter Malloch Park. Ellis said that it was such a success that the realtors wanted to do it again this year in Tulare. Working to build Self-Help homes will now become a yearly event for the realtor association.

The families chosen to participate normally can’t qualify for a traditional mortgage but have a strong desire for home ownership. To participate in the Self-Help program they had to assist in the construction of all 12 of the homes. Construction is taking place on the corner of North “E” St. and West Gail Ave. in Tulare, across the street from Los Tules Middle School. Construction was started in September of last year and is about halfway done. The homes already had their walls and foundations and are expected to be finished in June.

According to Tom Collishaw, president of Self-Help Enterprises, the families exchange their labor for the down payment of their home, usually the main stumbling block for most working families. Financing is provided by Kings Mortgage through the Fair Housing Administration. Many times the families who participate in a Self-Help project find that their new mortgage for these three- and four-bedroom detached homes is cheaper than the rent on their apartment. The Tulare families will be paying approximately $600 to $850 a month. Self-Help Enterprises can also provide a second mortgage at 4 percent interest that is not due until the family sells their home.

In a Self-Help project, before construction begins, the families make a commitment to each other. They work on all of the houses, and no one moves in until every house is finished. The single-family, energy-efficient homes are all built under the mutual self-help method of construction, with homeowners providing more than 70 percent of the construction labor. Families and volunteers do such construction tasks as basic electrical, foundation, framing, roofing, planting and painting. There is always an on-site construction supervisor and crew to train the volunteers and help build the houses.

Self-Help Enterprises is a home-grown, Central Valley non-profit organization. Much of the funding comes from the United States Department of Agriculture for communities smaller than 25,000 people, such as Goshen or Orosi. Self-Help has to find other sources of funding when building in the larger towns of Tulare or Visalia.

Since 1965, Self-Help Enterprises has helped more than 6,100 families in the San Joaquin Valley build their own homes and participate in the American dream of homeownership. Self-Help Enterprises’ emphasis on sustainable homeownership, combined with counseling and education, an affordable mortgage, and “sweat equity” down payment has resulted in successful homeownership for thousands of San Joaquin Valley families.

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