Mountainlands Community Housing Trust celebrating milestone
A national organization is turning 50 this month and the local chapter serving Summit and Wasatch counties is recognizing the milestone on Thursday.
Mountainlands Community Housing Trust is hosting an open house to celebrate the anniversary and 50,000 homes built by the mutual self-help housing program on June 18 at 4 p.m. at the River Bluffs subdivision, 434 Bluff View Court, in Francis.
The open house tour is in a subdivision where seven homes in Group Thirteen of the Mutual Self-Help program were recently constructed. The seven homes have taken nearly eight months to build and were constructed, in large part, by the families that will live in them.
Scott Loomis, executive director of Mountainlands in Park City, said the affordable housing program has been very successful in generating homes for those who qualify, especially in Summit and Wasatch counties.
"For some people, this is pretty much the only way they can obtain home ownership," Loomis said. "It has been very successful for those people who participate."
When a home or a large group of homes is finished, Loomis said an open house tour is typically held. Since the completion of the homes coincides with the anniversary, he said it was only fitting to recognize both. Several representatives from state agencies, including Sen. Mike Lee’s office, are expected to attend.
Since 2002, Mountainlands has built 97 self-help homes. Five more will be under construction toward the end of the summer. The not-for-profit organization provides home ownership opportunities through affordable housing, direct assistance and education.
The organization also oversees many affordable rentals and works to monitor the resale of existing affordable homes. Most of the people that participate in the program and qualify for the subsidized loans are earning below the area’s median household income, Loomis said.
Potential homeowners are typically required to contribute a minimum of 30 hours per week toward the construction of a group of homes. For the subdivision in Francis, he said more than 1,000 hours have been contributed.
Erin O’Keefe, who sits on the Mountainlands Board, will be building a home in Francis in the River Bluffs subdivision through the program. O’Keefe said she learned of the self-help program as a board member and realized she could utilize it. Groundbreaking on O’Keefe’s home is slated for some time next month.
O’Keefe said she is "very excited" to break ground, but also a little apprehensive about undertaking such a large project.
"I’ve never built my own home, but I’m very excited to learn the skills," she said. "One of the great things about gaining those skills is I’ll be able to use them for the rest of my life.
"Another great thing about the program is through the construction process it allows me to build relationships with my neighbors," she said. "No one can move into their homes until all of the homes are complete. We treat them like they are ‘our homes’ and we build the community together."
O’Keefe said the anniversary is "really exciting" because she gets to be a part of it and contribute to Mountainlands’ overall goal of providing affordable housing in Summit County.
"They have been working so hard toward that goal and not only does it benefit myself, but also the community as a whole," she said.
For more information about Mountainlands Community Housing Trust or to become a Mutual Self-Help participant, go to http://housinghelp.org
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