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It started one frigid, snowy day 20 years ago in 1994, in the once thriving coal town of Tamaqua in rural eastern Pennsylvania, now fallen on hard times, with increasing unemployment, boarded-up buildings, hopelessness and accompanying social ills. A concerned local businessman, observing a steady decline in customer traffic in his store, walked through the snow and ice to the nearby office of then-state Rep. David Argall and said, “We have to do something.”
Nine families have just completed nine months of mutual self-help home building in a new northern California home location, the North Biggs Estates subdivision, near the town of Oroville. For these veteran renters, it is the beginning of a new, independent life of homeownership.
Rural LISC has been involved with Partner CDC Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) in the Biggs single family development from the start. Initially, Rural LISC provided the loan funds for the infrastructure improvements. Then, in 2009, Rural LISC bought out the acquisition bank loan when there was a decline in the housing market. CHIP completed build-out of lots located elsewhere in their service area through their Mutual Self-Help Housing program before it started construction on the first home at the Biggs location. In addition to the nine homes just completed, another 19 are under construction at North Biggs Estates.
Below is the story from Chico's Action News of one of the nine families, and how they built their new home as part of CHIP’s self-help housing program.
Earlier this year, a $3.75 million grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation initiated a renewed focus on troubled rural (and urban) communities across the country – reviving businesses, building essential affordable housing, and creating jobs in places desperately needing them.
6.1 million children in rural areas are now living in poverty, according to a new Kids Count report. This is a 1.3 million increase since the year 2000. Ninety-five percent of the high-child-poverty counties are in rural areas, especially in the Mississippi Delta, Texas, and Central Appalachia. More.
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