Self Help Program

Self Help Housing helps low-income individuals and families become homeowners.

The Concept of Self Help

Home is a place to call your own and what many people work toward, but cannot obtain the dream.  The City of Liberal Self Help Housing Program helps families work together to build each home, learning the value of teamwork and promoting a sense of community.

The families build “sweat equity” in their homes that provides the down payment.  The program is “Mutual” Self Help Housing because the groups work together cooperatively on all the houses to make the goal of homeownership a reality for all of them.  The concept of Self Help works because people want to make better lives for themselves and for their families.

Self Help housing builds more than houses, it builds neighborhoods and establishes communities and friendships.

City of Liberal Self Help Housing is funded by a grant to the City of Liberal from USDA Rural Development.




To be eligible:

  • You must have an income of low or very low according to HUD guidelines.
  • You must have sufficient income to afford the costs of owning a home.
  • You must have an acceptable credit history.
  • You must build your home in Liberal.

Income limits for Seward County, depending on family size, are as follows:

1 person
2 people
3 people
4 people
5 people
6 people
7 people
8 people
30% of Median Income








Very Low (50%)








Low Income (80%)









Application Process

The Self Help Housing staff helps you from the first application through the completion of the home.

  • The construction loan is financed through USDA Rural Development.
  • No cash down payment is required.
  • The sweat equity is earned and is considered the down payment on the home loan.
  • The loan is financed and repaid in a period up to 33 years.

Financing Your Home

The City of Liberal’s Self Help Housing staff helps you apply for financing and completing paperwork to become a homeowner.

  • The construction of Your Home is financed through USDA Rural Development.
  • No cash down payment is required.
  • The sweat equity you earn by working on the homes is the down payment.
  • The interest on your loan may be subsidized for low and very low income borrowers.
  • Your loan is repaid in a period of up to 33 years.

Building Your Home

The City of Liberal’s Mutual Self Help Housing Program supervises the entire construction process to help you build your quality home.

In the Self Help Housing program, a group of families and individuals are organized to work together under the supervision of a Construction Supervisor.  The group works about 25 to 30 hours per week on all of the homes being constructed.  All of the members of the group complete their homes at the same time.  No one moves in until all homes of the group are completed.

The sweat equity earned on building the home is the down payment.

Work is done on all the homes until they are all completed.  The families are then allowed to move in at the same time.

Coolidge Ribbon Cutting

Karen LaFreniere - Housing Director                                                 

 Karen joined the City of Liberal and the Self Help Housing program in August 2007.  Karen is from Liberal and has background in building houses for a local non-profit.  As Director, Karen oversees the projects, as well as the administration of the Technical Assistance Grant. 

Erika Villa - Group Coordinator/Bookkeeper

 Erika joined the Self-Help Housing team in January 2009.  Erika evaluates pre-applications and assists in the application process and credit counseling.  Erika administers family construction finances and coordinates meetings for the program.

Juan LaValle - Construction Supervisor

Juan joined Self-Help housing in November 2012.  Juan assists families in the construction of their homes, as well as teaching the families how to build the homes.  Juan also supervises and inspects the family construction, maintains family work records, schedules sub-contractors, orders materials and ensures that safety rules and regulations are maintained.

Brandon Elliott - Construction Assistant

Brandon joined Self-Help housing in June 2017.  Brandon works with homeowners and assists them in the construction of their homes.

For More Information Contact the Housing & Community Development Department at 620-626-2250.

Self Help Housing of Liberal

P.O. Box 2199

Liberal, KS 67905-2199