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Hopeful homebuyers use sweat equity to replace down payment

Monica Silva, Homeowner
Posted at 4:20 AM, Jun 16, 2022

We all know the cost of living is high on the Central Coast and KSBY News is working with you to help navigate the challenge.

In this "Price of Paradise" segment, we take a closer look at how a single mother makes her dream of being a homeowner come true with her own bare hands.

“Getting up on that ladder, being up on the roof, with a nail gun, with a tool belt, you just got to keep pushing. It’s blood sweat and tears literally."

That’s how San Miguel resident, Monica Silva, spent nearly every weekend for 18 months building her very own home - from the ground up.

“Literally, it was just dirt. It was nothing where we started. We literally took out our chalk reels and laid out the foundation,” said Silva.

Silva is a single mom who didn’t think owning her own home was in her cards. That is until she came across a so-called 'sweat equity' program.

“It's outrageously crazy. You know, I don't know how anybody these days can acquire a home if you're low income, middle income, you know,” said Silva. “I’m a single family mom, it's just everything, what can I say? You want to provide them the best that you can as a mom. And People’s Self-Help Housing was able to provide that for me, and move forward with that.”

In San Luis Obispo County the average price for a single-family home continues to rise, making the dream of owning a home out of reach for many families.

People’s Self Help Housing is paving the way to help people own a home on the Central Coast through their sweat equity program. Hopeful home buyers commit to a year or more - working on weekends - to help build their home in lieu of a down payment.

“There's so few home ownership opportunities, you know, especially these days - rising cost of construction, the interest rates are creeping up, so the crisis, unfortunately, is getting worse, not better,” said Ken Trigueiro, People’s Self-Help Housing CEO.

“The gap is too large and you just have to save so much for a down payment, and really, the only other alternatives that we've been able to identify is having this sweat equity as part of your down payment really to make up that gap,” said Trigueiro.

The sweat equity program is a serious commitment.

You’re outside, rain or shine, and give up special moments with loved ones throughout the year.

Silva said, “You're seeing weddings happening, you're seeing family engagements, you're seeing all the stuff that's happening and you're not participating.”

But she adds that she would rather give up 18 months of her life so she could have a lifetime in her own home.

“Low-income people that we think we can't make it, you know, put a little bit of sweat equity in there, kind of, a little bit of blood, sweat and tears in there - you might be able to gain your home, and have it for the rest of your life. And have it for the rest of your life for your family. It’s a great feeling,” said Silva.

There’s a new sweat equity project in the works at the old Hi-Way Drive-In Theater site in Santa Maria.

The interest list is now open. Find out how to apply HERE.