USDA Self-Help

Build Your New Home With No Money Down!

USDA Self-Help organizes neighbors to work together to build their homes.  “Sweat equity” is your down payment toward a subsidized mortgage that is often less than monthly rents.
  No construction experience needed!

About The USDA Self-Help Program

The USDA Self-Help Housing Program began over 60 years ago and is similar to the “barn raisings” of the Quakers where neighbors build their neighborhoods together. Family Construction Coordinators guide groups of six to ten families in the construction of their new homes. Because no construction experience is necessary participants can enlist friends and family to help.

How Does It Work?

Determination and Hard Work Build Equity in Your New Home!

  • USDA Mutual Self-Help is funded by The U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
  • Participants contribute a minimum of 600 hours of “sweat equity” in the construction of their homes as well as the other homes in the neighborhood.  This is a measurable cost saving towards the mortgage of each participant. Volunteers such as extended family members, friends, church members, co-workers are welcome to help families accomplish their labor requirements. Families perform a variety of basic and semi-skilled tasks, such as painting, construction, debris removal, landscaping, etc. Families also learn new skills related to green building, energy efficiency, home maintenance and money management. Once all construction for a group is completed, everyone receives keys to their respective homes, thus, creating an instant community.

Do I Qualify?

Homeowner Eligibility Requirements:

  • Qualify as a first-time homebuyer (never owned a home before OR have not owned property in the last three years)
  • Earn minimum annual household income of $25,000.00*
  • Have an annual household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income for the county where you will purchase the home (see chart here )
  • Have good or repairable credit
  • Have a good landlord history
  • Be willing to work a minimum of 600 hours to build your new home
  • A limited number of lots have been set aside for clients with incomes over 80% of the median income. These homes have different labor requirements, separate pricing and special financing. Contact the office for details.

Check out our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ and ‘Other Features’ to learn more about FHP’s Self-help Home Ownership Program. To request a packet and make an appointment, call 813.672.7889 or email

Did You Know? Many of Our Employees are USDA Self-Help Graduates!

We feel it is a testament to the success of the Self-Help Housing Program that our clients believe in the program enough
to want to help others achieve their
homeownership dreams!
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