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SEICAA says home program going strong

By By Chris Cole
Published On: Jan 30 2014 10:15:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 30 2014 10:34:36 PM CST

SEICAA is celebrating a milestone for their Self-Help Housing program, and the executive director says it's not stopping here.

CHUBBUCK, Idaho -

The SouthEastern Idaho Community Action Agency (SEICAA) in Pocatello celebrated a milestone Thursday: 25 homes built for low-to-moderate income families.

SEICAA executive director Deb Hemmert said this is a big deal for the homeowners, but there can be some misunderstandings about what SEICAA does for the homeowners.

"In our program, which is a little different from others, they are required to do some sweat equity," Hemmert said. "They just have to commit to 50 hours per adult in the household. And then we assign a dollar value to that and it is taken off their loan when they buy the home."

The sweat equity also helps keep costs down. For David Cote, who went through SEICAA for his home, he said it helped him and his wife to feel more confident about owning a home.

"Aside from the physical labor there are classes," Cote said. "Financial preparedness classes that help you know how to have a home and repair it if something does break."

Kyle Heusser is the construction manger for SEICAA. He said he's very proud of the homes he and his team build.

"A lot of efficient work that shows for itself," Heusser said. "You're getting maximum efficiency out of your whole house. Appliances, lights, all that is all Energy Star."

Each home is sold before it is built. Applicants use the SEICAA application (found here: www.seicaa.com) to apply for a loan through the lender of their choosing. Once the home is built the loan is closed and SEICAA offers a one year warranty.

The homeowners have a few floor plans to choose from, and while 50 hours are required, the adults can put in up to 250 hours each. Hemmert said in the past few years they have seen changes with home appraisals.

"A couple of years ago there were about $7-$8,000 less in their appraisal value," Hemmert said, "and now they're starting to come back up. So I'm hoping that's a good sign for the housing market in Pocatello and southeast Idaho."

SEICAA is already building another home next door to Cote's home on Scottsdale Drive. SEICAA owns several more lots in the area, and Hemmert said with other developers in the area, they hope to create a nice new neighborhood. Hemmert said they build homes similarly to avoid any stigma of financial struggle.

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