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Content provided by the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
10.420 Rural Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance




Housing Act of 1949, as amended, Section 523, Public Laws 89-117 and 89-754, 42 U.S.C. 1490c.
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To provide Self Help Technical Assistance Grants to provide financial assistance to qualified nonprofit organizations and public bodies that will aid needy very low and low-income individuals and their families to build homes in rural areas by the self help method. Any State, political subdivision, private or public nonprofit corporation is eligible to apply. Section 523 Grants are used to pay salaries, rent, and office expenses of the nonprofit organization. Pre-development grants up to $10,000 may be available to qualified organizations.


Project Grants.
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Eligible organizations may use technical assistance funds to hire the personnel to carry out a technical assistance program for self-help housing in rural areas; to pay necessary and reasonable office and administrative expenses; to purchase or rent equipment such as power tools for use by families participating in self-help housing construction; and to pay fees for training self-help group members in construction techniques or for other professional services needed. Funds will not be used to hire personnel to perform any construction work, to buy real estate or building materials, or pay any debts, expenses or costs other than previously outlined for participating families in self-help projects.


Applicant Eligibility:   Must be a State or political subdivision, public nonprofit corporation or a private nonprofit corporation. Assistance is authorized for eligible applicants in the United States, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Marianas.

Beneficiary Eligibility:   Very low and low-income rural families, usually in groups of 6 to 10 families.

Credentials/Documentation:   Applicants must furnish evidence of the need for such services, have legal capacity to incur the obligation and operate the proposed project, and be unable to obtain the necessary funds from other sources. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

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Pre-application Coordination:   The State Director must request funding approval from the National office of all requests. A technical review and analysis must be completed by the Technical and Management Assistance (T&MA) contractor on all predevelopment, new, and existing (refunding) grant applications. In addition to the T&MA contractor's review, Agency personnel must also review and evaluate the feasibility of the grantee's request and make the appropriate recommendation. The level of National office review will be based on the amount of the grant. For grant requests under $300,000 the State Director should submit: (1) the analysis from the T&MA contractor; (2) statement indicating whether or not the grant recipient will be working in Empowerment Zones (EZ), Enterprise Communities (EC) or Rural Economic Area Partnerships (REAP) and census tract designation of area; (3) the State Director's recommendation; (4) a copy of the conditions to be met; (5) a copy of From RD 1940-1, "Request for Obligation of Funds;" and (6) if the grantee is a marginal performer, specific information showing actions to correct performance. For grant requests that equal or exceed $300,000, the complete application docket along with a statement indicating whether the grant recipient will be working in an EZ, EC, REAP or tribal community, must be sent to the National office. $34 million has been appropriated for section 523 Mutual and Self-Help Technical Assistance grants. Of these funds, $1 million is earmarked for EZ, EC or REAP communities. All section 523 grants will be obligated in the National office. This will enable the National office staff to monitor fund utilization. For section 523 mutual and self-help site loans and section 524 RH site loans, State Directors are responsible for developing an outreach program to increase public awareness of these programs. The State Director must request funding authority from the national office prior to obligating loan funds. Preapplication Coordination: The standard application forms as furnished by the Federal agency and required by Departmental Regulations 3015 and 3016 must be used for this program. This program is eligible for coverage under E.O. 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102.

Application Procedure:   Form SF-424 is submitted to the Field office of the Rural Development (RD) , including information attached to Part IV, fully documenting the applicant's experience, need for the grant and the proposed amount needed. Attachments relating to the size of the proposed project, estimated cost, budget and need are also required. This program is subject to provisions of Departmental Regulation 3015 and 3016.

Award Procedure:   Award is made by the National office.

Deadlines:   None.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time:   From 60 to 190 days from the time discussion begins.

Appeals:   Agency regulations providing customers with the rights for an informal review, mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR), or appeal to the National Appeals Division (NAD) are contained in 7 CFR Part 3550. NAD regulations are found at 7 CFR Part 11. Requests for an informal review, mediation and ADR must be received within 30 days from the date of the adverse decision. Requests for an appeal to NAD must be received within 30 days of receipt of the adverse decision.

Renewals:   Applicants may reapply at any time, if need to help low- income families build homes in rural areas by the mutual self-help method is clearly evidenced.


Formula and Matching Requirements:   None.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:   Grants are typically for a 2-year period, however, other time periods may be authorized if appropriate. Applications for assistance far exceed available funding. There is generally a waiting list for funding.


Reports:   Quarterly progress reports are to be made to the RHS\RD District Office.

Audits:   Annual audits should be made as part of the recipient's systems of financial management and internal control to meet terms and conditions of grants and other agreements.

Records:   Adequate operating records must be maintained by Grantee.


Account Identification:   12-2006-0-1-604.

Obligations:   (Grants and Contracts) FY 01 $30,360,000; FY 02 est $34,000,000; and FY 03 est $34,000,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance:  
FY 2015 average grant assistance $435,488.
FY 2016 average grant assistance $580,020.
FY 2016 average amount is estimated.

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There were 98 grants made in fiscal year 2001.


7 CFR Subpart I of Part 1944; Chapter XVIII; RD Instruction 1944-I, "Self-Help Technical Assistance Grants"; (PA 1254) (no charge).


Regional or Local Office:   See Regional Agency Offices. Consult your local telephone directory under Department of Agriculture for Rural Development county or district office numbers or visit the website for a State Office listing.

Headquarters Office:   Myron L. Wooden 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, District of Columbia 20250 Email: Phone: (804) 287-1559

Web Site Address:


An example of a funded project is Self-Help Enterprises, Visalia, California and the City of Casa Grande, Casa Grande, and Arizona.


The criteria for selecting proposals are the evidence of a clearly defined need in an area for mutual self-help housing and the families in the area cannot afford or obtain a modest house by customary methods, and the applicant possesses the expertise to provide the technical assistance (TA) required.

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