Self-Help Housing Program Offers Hope

Bryan Shupe, Milford LIVE | April 17, 2012

On Wednesday, April 11 Delaware Senator Tom Carper along with Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, HUD Regional Administrator Jane C.W. Vincent and USDA Rural Development State Director Jack Tarburton announced Milford Housing Development Corporation’s (MHDC) ENERGY STAR Award for Excellence at a build site in the Crescent Shores neighborhood located in Lincoln, DE. MHDC is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing in Delaware with a mission to provide decent, safe and affordable housing solutions to people of modest means.

“Milford Housing Development Corporation has been vital to the success of Delaware’s rural communities,” said Senator Carper. “Through their hard work we can see how homeownership can be more affordable through energy efficiency building. Today is a proud day for Sussex County and the entire First State.”

Although MDHC prides themselves on providing ENERGY STAR products and construction methods such as raised trusses for more insulation and specialized windows, providing affordable utility bills is merely an accent on their Self-Help housing Program that has changed the lives of area families.

The Self-Help Program offers qualified families an alternative path to owning their own home by allowing them to be involved with the process of homeownership literally from the ground up. Participants work in a group setting with other families, under the guidance of qualified construction supervisors, to construct their future home. The labor intensive jobs for those involved in the program include setting the framing for the house, constructing flooring and installing the roof.

“It’s all about the end user and the family unit in the end,” commented David Moore, MHDC President and CEO. “We invest in these families for a period of two to three years overseeing construction and helping them with financial literacy.”

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.

New homeowner Dupree Johnson has worked with MHDC over the past several years and recently finished construction on his new home. At the event held on April 11 Mr. Johnson spoke to attendees and gave a tour of his new house to Senator Carper. Dupree expressed his gratitude towards MHDC, the Self-Help Program and all the volunteers that helped him build his own home.

“I will never forget this,” commented Mr. Johnson speaking to the crowd assembled at the event. “My life was saved through this program. Four years ago I was living in a shelter, I was homeless. They have really blessed my life.”

Currently, MHDC owns seven affordable rental complexes, owns seven units of transitional housing and oversees the management of more than 2,000 affordable rental units. In addition, MHDC is the only agency operating the Self-Help Housing Program in Delaware. MHDC has developed over 125 Self-Help homes in lower Delaware; thereby assisting over 125 families realize their dream homeownership. For more information about Milford Housing Development Corporation and the Self-Help Program visit or call 302-422-8255.

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