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Helping others to help themselves 

In this region, known for its expensive housing market, it can be difficult for first-time home buyers to get their foot in the door. One local nonprofit came up with a solution; let them build the door themselves.

click to enlarge HOME SWEET HOME :  Applications are being accepted for affordable housing in Avila Beach. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PEOPLES’ SELF HELP HOUSING
  • HOME SWEET HOME : Applications are being accepted for affordable housing in Avila Beach.

For more than 35 years, Peoples’ Self-Help Housing Corp. has been dedicated to assisting Central Coast low-income families, seniors, and other people in need by providing them with affordable housing opportunities. From Paso Robles to Ventura, the organization has developed more than 1,000 affordable homes, made possible by “sweat equity,” a process that allows families to invest 40 hours a week towards building the home themselves in lieu of costly down payments. By including families in the building process, home owners develop the skills necessary for self-sufficiency, as well as pride in their community.

“Our whole concept is to get people involved in the process of building their own community,” said Jeanette Duncan, executive director of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing Corp., who has been involved since its inception and has no shortage of success stories.

“When we see a family get the key to their new home and know how hard they have worked for it, that’s a big reward,” she said. Families are chosen based on income bracket and credit history among other things. No special skills are needed, as families work with building professionals who oversee and instruct them along the way.

For those not looking to build a home, Peoples’ have also developed more than 1,200 affordable rental units catering to families with special needs, such as non-English-speaking farm workers and seniors. With more than 100 employees and an extensive property management department, Peoples’ tenants are afforded numerous self-help programs providing educational opportunities and social services. These programs have worked remarkably well, said Duncan, who recalls cases of children from non-English speaking families going on to graduate college and attain prosperous careers.

Projects currently in the pipeline include affordable rental units in Avila Beach that will be open to tenants in October, as well as a residential housing development in Oceano. These are just two of the many projects currently in the works, and Peoples’ Self-Help Housing Corp. welcomes people seeking affordable housing to apply by calling 805-781-3088 or visiting



Intern Patrick R. Barbieri compiled this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Send your business news to

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