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Main Office
870-741-5522
Annex Office
 870-743-6779
Locations of Northwest Regional Housing Authority Locations

Locations

Serving North-Central Arkansas. With rental properties found at various locations throughout our service area. Housing Choice Vouchers can be used anywhere in our service area.

Housing for Northwest Regional Housing Authority Housing

Housing

Provides housing assistance to families, elderly & disabled individuals through programs like Public Housing, Section 8, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HOME & Homeownership.

Participants of Northwest Regional Housing Authority Residents

Participants

Residents have access to an array of supportive service programs, like counseling and education designed to maximize individual potential.

Vouchers for Northwest Regional Housing Authority Voucher Programs

SECTION 8

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as Section 8) is one of the best opportunities for lower income families to obtain decent, safe, and affordable housing.

Frequently Asked Questions


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Housing Choice Voucher - Owners/Managers
Are there regulations that explain what need to be done on order to comply with Section 504?

Yes. HUD's regulations for Section 504 that apply to federally assisted programs may be found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 24 CFR Part 8. There are also regulations that govern Section 504 in programs conducted by HUD which may be found at 24 CFR Part 9, however, this Web site focuses on Section 504's requirements for federally assisted programs, services and activities.

How do I terminate the tenancy of a Housing Choice Voucher tenant?

If a tenant falls behind in the rent or violates any of their lease obligations, give the tenant and our office a 30 day written notice on the 1st of a month. If there is criminal or drug activity or if the tenant is causing damages to the unit, you may give the tenant a 3-5 day notice. (All notices must be copied to the Housing Authority)

How do I terminate the tenancy of a Housing Choice Voucher tenant?

If a tenant falls behind in the rent or violates any of their lease obligations, give the tenant and our office a 30 day written notice on the 1st of a month. If there is criminal or drug activity or if the tenant is causing damages to the unit, you may give the tenant a 3-5 day notice. (All notices must be copied to the Housing Authority)

How do you determine whether a request for a certain accommodation is reasonable?

Whether a particular accommodation is "reasonable" depends on a variety of factors and must be decided on a case-by-case basis. The determination of whether a requested accommodation is reasonable depends on the answers to two questions. First, does the request impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider? Second, would making the accommodation require a fundamental alteration in the nature of the provider's operations? If the answer to either of these is yes, the requested accommodation is not reasonable. However, even where a housing provider is not obligated to provide a particular accommodation because the particular accommodation is not reasonable, the provider is still obligated to provide other requested accommodation that do qualify as reasonable. For example:

As a result of a disability, a tenant is unable to open the dumpster provided by his housing provider for his trash. The tenant requests that the housing provider send a maintenance staff person to collect his trash from his apartment daily. Because the housing development is a small, low-budget operation and administrative burden for the housing provider to provide daily trash service to the tenant and the housing provider may refuse to provide the requested accommodation. However, the housing provider is obligated to provide the tenant with a requested alternative accommodation - Providing either an open trash can or placing a trash can which the tenant can open in an accessible location so that the tenant can dispose of his trash.

After I sign the RFTA and family submits it to the Housing Authority, how long before an inspection is scheduled?

The Housing Authority's goal is to conduct an inspection within 15 business days of the RFTA's submission to and approval by our office. Prior to Housing Authority staff contacting the tenant and owner to schedule the inspection, the family's share of rent is calculated, a family cannot pay 40% or more towards their rent and tenant provided utilities.

Arkansas Security Deposit

The Arkansas security deposit law gives tenants added protection when leasing a residential dwelling. This law applies only to landlords who rent six or more dwellings and contains the following provisions:

Limit: If you are required to pay a security deposit, you cannot be charged in excess of two months' rent.
Example: If your rent is $500 a month, a landlord cannot require a security deposit of more than $1000.
Termination of Lease: When you move, the landlord must return your security deposit within 30 days. The landlord may, however, deduct from the security deposit any damages made to the dwelling or any past due rent.
Failure to Return: The landlord deducts from your security deposit an amount to cover damages or unpaid rent; he must give you a written, itemized list of the charges withheld within 30 days of the time you vacate.
Damages: Any Arklansas landlord may withhold the entire amount of the security deposit for damages and/or unpaid rent. He must give you a written, itemized list of charges withheld within 30 days of the time you vacate.

When you move out of a unit, it should be returned in the same condition, less normal wear and tear. The tenant may be charged for damages NOT considered normal wear and tear.
Always do a walk through WHEN YOU MOVE IN and AGAIN WHEN YOU MOVE OUT.
                                                             TAKE PICTURES.

Does housing authority screen tenants?

The Housing Authority does screening as to income eligibility for the program as well as criminal background screening (in limited circumstances). Screening for tenant suitability remains the landlord's responsibility.

How do I request a rent increase?

Owners who request a rent increase must do so only at the annual renewal of the rental assistance contract. The request must be in writing and submitted to our office and the tenant sixty days prior to renewal.

Units that do not pass the initial inspection at the renewal are not eligible for a rent increase even if they pass the re-inspection. However, if the items are the tenant's responsibility (such as "unit needs cleaning") we will allow the rent increase.

If the rent increase is comparable to other similar units, it can be granted. However, if the unit does not compare, you will be notified in writing and allowed to decline continuing in the rental assistance program.

I am interested in the Housing Choice Voucher program, but still have questions. Who do I contact?

Call the Housing Authority at (870) 741-5522. Explain that you are interested in renting your property through the voucher program and that you would like to speak to a housing representative who can answer your questions.

If I choose to rent to a voucher holder, what is the process involved?
  • Answer: A summary of the steps, which are described in more detail in other questions is listed below:

    • The prospective tenant and owner submits the completed Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA)
    • You and the prospective tenant will be contacted by mail to schedule an inspection of the unit.
    • Once the unit is approved, lease and HAP are signed, the tenant pays the security deposit and their portion of the rent the tenant moves in if they are not already living there.
    • Shortly thereafter, you will receive your first payment from the housing authority.
If I rent to one voucher holder, do all my units have to be Housing Choice Voucher Tenants?

No. Just because you rent to one Section 8 tenant does not mean you have to rent only Housing Choice Voucher Tenants. Property owners retain the right to screen prospective tenants. and select the best tenant for their property, whether they are a voucher holders or not.

If I sign the Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) form, am I committed to renting to the family?

No. The Request for Tenancy Approval form is simply your intention to rent to the tenant and sets the terms for the tenancy. Either party may withdraw from the process before a lease or contract is executed. Your lease is the binding agreement with your tenant.

May I rent my property under the Housing Choice Voucher Program to a relative?

Federal regulations do not allow the Housing Authority to subsidize the rent of any participant if the property owner is the parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sister or brother of any member of the participant's household unless as a reasonable accommodation for a family member with disabilities, only if the unit meets a specific need of the disabled family member as certified by a physician.

What about security deposits?

Property owners are entitled to collect a security deposit from Housing Choice Voucher participants. The security deposit cannot exceed amounts collected from non-subsidized tenants and must be in compliance with Arkansas state landlord and tenant law.

What are the most commonly failed inspection items?

The following list will help identify the most common items that arise during inspections. Please correct any deficiencies prior to the inspection date. There may be additional considerations at the time of inspection.

  1. Smoke detector inoperable or missing
  2. Light switch and/or outlet cover is cracked or missing
  3. Windows are either broken or won't lock, missing or torn screens or bent frames
  4. Any water or sewer/septic leaks - bathroom or kitchen
  5. Peeling, chipping or flaking paint inside or outside
  6. Torn, ripped or loose carpet or linoleum
  7. Garbage, trash or debris in yard or house
  8. Must have working stove and refrigerator (all burners on stove must work properly and refrigerator must be in good condition)
  9. Utilities not on (including LP Gas)
  10. Missing handrail on steps or porch, loose blocks used for steps, rotting or missing wood on porch or steps
What are the responsibilities of an owner in the voucher program?

Property owners maintain the same rights and responsibilities in the voucher program as they would with an open-market tenancy, including:

  • Performing all management and rental functions, including tenant screening.
  • Ensuring that the property meets basic health and safety standards, including paying for any owner-supplied utilities.
  • Collecting a security deposit, tenant monthly rent portion, and charges for damages cause by tenant.
What can I expect from a voucher tenant?

Answer: Voucher holders have the same responsibilities as any other non-subsidized tenant. They are obligated to fullfill the terms and conditions of their lease, including:

  • Paying the security deposit
  • Paying rent on time
  • Maintaining the property, including paying utilities in their name
  • Allowing the owner and Housing Authority reasonable access for inspections
  • Paying for any tenant caused damage to the property
  • Using the residence solely as a residence for approved household members
  • Giving proper written notice (30 day written on or by the 1st of a month) when choosing to vacate.
What is a reasonable accommodation under Section 504?

A "reasonable accommodation" is a change, adaption or modification to a policy, program, service, or workplace which allow a qualified person with a disability to participate fully in a program, take advantage of a service, or perform a job. Reasonable accommodations may include, for example, those which are necessary in order for the person with a disability to use and enjoy a dwelling, including public and common use spaces. Since persons with disabilities may have special needs due to their disabilities, in some cases, simply treating them exactly the same as others may not ensure that they have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

In order to show that a requested accommodation may be necessary, there must be an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested sccommodation and the individuals disability. As discussed in the next question and answer, what is reasonable must be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, experience has shown that the following examples are often reasonable accommodations.

  • A federally assisted housing provider has a policy of not providing assigned parking spaces. A tenant with a mobility impairment, who has difficulty walking, is provided a reasonable accommodation by being given an assigned accessible parking space in front of the entrance to his unit.
  • A federally assisted housing provider has a policy of requiring tenant to come to the rental office to pay their rent. A tenant with a mental disability, who is afraid to leave her unit, is provided a reasonable accommodation by being allowed to mail her rent payment.
  • A federally assisted housing provider has a no pets policy. A tenant, who uses a wheelchair and has difficulty picking up items off the ground, is allowed to have an assistive animal that fetches things for her as a reasonable accommodation to her disability.
  • An older tenant has a stroke and begins to use a wheelchair. Her apartment has steps at the entrance and she needs a ramp to enter the unit. Her federally assisted housing provider pays for the construction of a ramp as a reasonable accommodation to the tenant's disability.
When can a federally assisted housing provider insist on an alternative to the accommodation requested by a tenant?

If the housing provider believes the requested accommodation is unreasonable, the housing provider may, but is not required to, propose a substitute accommodation requested by the tenant or applicant because the individual with a disability is most familiar with his or her disability and is in the best position to determine what type of aid or service will be effective. If the housing provider suggests an alternative accommodation, the tenant may reject it if s/he feels it does not meet his or her needs.

Who is protected by the law?

Persons with disabilities.

What is Section 504?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states: "No otherwise qualified individual with disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program, service or activity receiving federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any executive agency or by the United States Postal Service." (29 U.S.C. 794). This means that Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity that receives financial assistance from any federal agency, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as in programs conducted be the federal agencies including HUD.

What is the Federal Fair Housing Act and what types of discrimination does it prohibit against person with disabilities?

The Federal Fair Housing Act (FHAct), 42 U.S.C. 3601-19, prohibits discrimination in housing practices on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. (FHAct uses the term "handicap," however; this document uses the term "disability," which has the same legal meaning.) The Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating against persons because of their disability or the disability of anyone associated with them and from treating person with disabilities less favorably than others because of the disability. The Act also requires housing providers "to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person(s) equal opportunity to use and enjoy any dwelling." In addition, the Act requires that housing providers allow tenants to make reasonable modifications to units and common spaces in a dwelling. The Act applies to the vast ,majority of privately and publicly owned housing including housing subsidized by the federal government or rented through the use of Section 8 voucher assistance. HUD's regulations implementing the disability discrimination prohibitions of the Act may be found at 24 CFR 100.201-205

When and how should an individual request an accommodation?

An individual with a disability should request an accommodation as soon as it appears that the accommodation is needed. However, requests may be made at any time. For example, requests may be made when an individual is applying for housing, entering into a lease, or occupying housing. Individuals who become disabled during their tenancy may request accommodation, even if they were not disabled when they signed their leases.

Section 504 does not prescribe a uniform procedure for requesting a reasonable accommodation to be used with all housing providers. To request an accommodation, an individual need not mention Section 504 or use the phrase "reasonable accommodation." In general, a tenant or prospective tenant should make clear to the housing provider that s/he is requesting that an exception, change, adjustment, or modification be made to a rule, policy, practice, service, building or dwelling unit because s/he has a disability. S/he should explain what type of accommodation is requested and explain the relationship between the requested accommodation and his or her disability. In order to facilitate the process and consideration of the request, tenants or prospective tenants may wish to check with a housing provider in advance to determine whether that housing provider has established any specific procedure regarding requests for reasonable accommodation. Although the Section 504 regulations do not require it, it is usually helpful that the request be made in writing, so there will be documentation that the request was actually made in the event of a later dispute.

Who takes care of tenant-caused damages during tenancy?

As in all tenancies, repairs for tenant-caused damages are the responsibility of the tenant. Failure to make repairs may be grounds to terminate the lease and participation in the Section 8 program. The security deposit may also be used for reimbursement costs. (See paragraph above)

Housing Choice Voucher - Reasonable Accommodation
May a recipient refuse to rent to a person with a mental disability because he is uncomfortable with the individual?

No. section 504, related laws like the Fair Housing Act, make it unlawful for a housing provider to refuse to rent to a person simply because of a disability. Therefore, a housing provider may not refuse to rent to an otherwise eligible individual because of fears or concerns that may be based on myths or stereotypes about persons with mental disabilities.

Are there regulations that explain what need to be done on order to comply with Section 504?

Yes. HUD's regulations for Section 504 that apply to federally assisted programs may be found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 24 CFR Part 8. There are also regulations that govern Section 504 in programs conducted by HUD which may be found at 24 CFR Part 9, however, this Web site focuses on Section 504's requirements for federally assisted programs, services and activities.

How is disability defined?

An individual with a disability is any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The term "physical or mental impairment" may include, but is not limited to, conditions such as visual or hearing impairment, mobility impairment, HIV infection, mental retardation, drug addiction (except current illegal use of or addiction to drugs), or mental illness. The term "major life activity" may include seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for one's self, learning, speaking, or impairment, or are regarded as having such impairment.

Is a federally assisted housing provider obligated to provide an accommodation to a tenant or applicant is s/he has not requested it?

No. Such a housing provider is only obligated to provide an accommodation if s/he is on notice of the request. However, a person with a disability will be considered to have asked for an accommodation if s/he indicates that a change or exception to a policy, practice, or procedure or modification would assist him or her in making more effective use of his or her housing, even if the words "reasonable accommodation" are not used as part of the request.

How do you determine whether a request for a certain accommodation is reasonable?

Whether a particular accommodation is "reasonable" depends on a variety of factors and must be decided on a case-by-case basis. The determination of whether a requested accommodation is reasonable depends on the answers to two questions. First, does the request impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider? Second, would making the accommodation require a fundamental alteration in the nature of the provider's operations? If the answer to either of these is yes, the requested accommodation is not reasonable. However, even where a housing provider is not obligated to provide a particular accommodation because the particular accommodation is not reasonable, the provider is still obligated to provide other requested accommodation that do qualify as reasonable. For example:

As a result of a disability, a tenant is unable to open the dumpster provided by his housing provider for his trash. The tenant requests that the housing provider send a maintenance staff person to collect his trash from his apartment daily. Because the housing development is a small, low-budget operation and administrative burden for the housing provider to provide daily trash service to the tenant and the housing provider may refuse to provide the requested accommodation. However, the housing provider is obligated to provide the tenant with a requested alternative accommodation - Providing either an open trash can or placing a trash can which the tenant can open in an accessible location so that the tenant can dispose of his trash.

May a landlord charge a person who uses a wheelchair a higher security deposit because of concerns about damage to the dwelling unit?

No. A wheelchair user is no more likely than anyone else to cause damage, beyond typical wear and tear, to a dwelling unit. However, if a person who uses a wheelchair does cause damage to a unit that is beyond normal wear and tear, whether the damage is related to the wheelchair or not, that individual may be required to cover such damage out of a standard security deposit that is charged to everyone.

What discriminatory practices does Section 504 prohibit?

Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program, service, or activity that receives federal financial assistance. This means, for example, that persons with disabilities may not be denied the opportunity to participate in a program, service, or activity; may not be required to accept a different kind or lesser program or service than what is provided to others, and may not be required to participate in separate programs and services, even if separate programs and services exist. In general, with respect to housing, it means that a housing provider may not deny or refuse to sell or rent to a person with a disability, and may not impose application or qualification criteria, rental fees or sales prices, and rental or sales terms or conditions that are different than those required of or provided to persons who are not disabled. Housing providers may not require persons with disabilities to live only on certain floors, or to all live in one section of the housing. Housing providers may not refuse to make repairs, and may not limit or deny someone with a disability access to recreational and other public and common use facilities, parking privileges, cleaning or janitorial services, or any services which are made available to other residents. People with disabilities may not be denied the opportunity to serve on planning or advisory boards because of their disabilities.

What happens if a federally assisted housing provider fails to act on a request for an accommodation?

If a housing provider delays responding to a request for an accommodation, after a reasonable amount pf time, that delay may be constructed as a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation. A tenant or applicant may choose to seek legal assistance or file a complaint with HUD.

When can a federally assisted housing provider insist on an alternative to the accommodation requested by a tenant?

If the housing provider believes the requested accommodation is unreasonable, the housing provider may, but is not required to, propose a substitute accommodation requested by the tenant or applicant because the individual with a disability is most familiar with his or her disability and is in the best position to determine what type of aid or service will be effective. If the housing provider suggests an alternative accommodation, the tenant may reject it if s/he feels it does not meet his or her needs.

When and how should an individual request an accommodation?

An individual with a disability should request an accommodation as soon as it appears that the accommodation is needed. However, requests may be made at any time. For example, requests may be made when an individual is applying for housing, entering into a lease, or occupying housing. Individuals who become disabled during their tenancy may request accommodation, even if they were not disabled when they signed their leases.

Section 504 does not prescribe a uniform procedure for requesting a reasonable accommodation to be used with all housing providers. To request an accommodation, an individual need not mention Section 504 or use the phrase "reasonable accommodation." In general, a tenant or prospective tenant should make clear to the housing provider that s/he is requesting that an exception, change, adjustment, or modification be made to a rule, policy, practice, service, building or dwelling unit because s/he has a disability. S/he should explain what type of accommodation is requested and explain the relationship between the requested accommodation and his or her disability. In order to facilitate the process and consideration of the request, tenants or prospective tenants may wish to check with a housing provider in advance to determine whether that housing provider has established any specific procedure regarding requests for reasonable accommodation. Although the Section 504 regulations do not require it, it is usually helpful that the request be made in writing, so there will be documentation that the request was actually made in the event of a later dispute.

Managed Rental Properties - Q&A
What should I do if my income, family composition, or address changes before I am housed?

You will need to contact the manager at the property in which you applied. This should be done as soon as the change occurs as this might affect eligibility.

Who should I contact regarding the status of my application?

You will contact the manager of the property in which you applied.

How do you screen applicants?

The Affordable Housing Properties conduct careful screening of applicants, 18 and over, for apartments we own and manage. Criminal background, credit history, and rental history are a few of the many things we check. For further information, you may download tenant selection criteria for the property you are interested in.

How long will I have to wait before I am called for an apartment?

There is no way to predict how long you may have to wait before you are called for an apartment. This depends on when people move out and a vacancy occurs. It is very important that you notify the manager if there is any change of address or telephone number so you will be able to be reached.

How long will my application remain active?

Until you remove yourself from the waiting list or decline a unit that is offered, or move-in to a unit.

How much will my rent be?

Rent amounts vary from property to property. For more information, contact the manager of the property you are interested in renting from.

Is there a maximum income that would make me ineligible?

Yes. The maximum family gross income that a family may have is based on the family size. Income limits are posted on the www.hud.gov website or you may go to the complex of your choice on this website for further information.

Is there a minimum age requirement?

Yes. You and your co-head, if any, must be at least 18 years of age.

How do I obtain an application?

You can contact the manager of the property and an application will be mailed to you.
Click here for the contact information

Can an individual apply to both the property and Section 8?

Yes. Several of our properties accept Section 8. If you were wanting rental assistance, you would need to apply at the property itself and then with Section 8 division. The property should have a Section 8 application on-site if you need one.

Can I apply at more than one complex?

Yes. Each complex will have their own application packet for you to complete. Once housed at one property, you would not be eligible at another.

Mutual Self-Help Housing - Q&A
If I am on rental assistance do I qualify?

Yes, NWRH can assist you with qualifying for homeownership, please contact us to learn more about this program.

Is the program for families and married couples only?

The self-help housing program is for everyone who qualifies regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, or martial status.

There are 2010 household income limits to qualify for the self-help housing program (80% of median income for the county you wish to live). Call us to check on the income limits for your county.

May I pick my house plans?

There are a number of house plans available. They range in various sizes. The majority if the plans include 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. We've tried to find plans of modest houses that are relatively easy to build, that make efficient use of space, that fit together as a coherent neighborhood, and that have some "curb appeal." We try to accommodate the plan you select, but we must consider what you can afford, the lot size, and the size of your family.

May I pick the location of my house?

NWRHA locates property where you might be interested in building. If you own your own property, the land will have to meet USDA building guidelines. We will gladly assist you with this phase of looking for property to build on. If you know of potential building lots, please contact our office by email or phone so that we can look into it.

May I sell my self-help home?

Yes. You may sell your home any time after occupancy. But please remember that subsidy amount is subject to recapture. This amount is on a case by case basis.

Should I just wait for the phone to ring?

We do very little screening at the time of the application. Thorough screening does not take place until we begin forming a building group. As a result, it is very difficult for us to be able to let you know if you will be in the next group in your area. The following items are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Although you may not qualify for a home now (some of the time this is due to credit history or too much debt). In the meantime, it makes sense to budget hard and clean up any credit issues because you can still work on qualifying towards the next building cycle. If you have a new phone number, have moved, or for some reason have difficulty receiving your mail, then you need to let us know ASAP, so that we can contact you when it is your turn to be part of a building group.
  • You will not know if you definitely qualify for the program and for the USDA 502 Home Loan until your turn comes for a home. We order and review your credit report after we receive your initial application and authorization for us to request your credit report. Applicants that appear to qualify for the program based on the results of the credit report will placed on our active wait list. Applicants on the active wait list will be called for a home opportunity before applicants that are not preliminary qualified for a home loan. Therefore, it is extremely important if you are on our waiting list and you have information that is important and may help you better qualify. This just might be the information we need to move you up to the active wait list.
What about a down payment?

No down payment is required for a USDA self-help home mortgage. The value of your labor is your down payment on your new home.

What are the credit requirements?

Applicants must have good credit history. Applicants must demonstrate a reasonable willingness and ability to meet their financial responsibilities in a timely manner.

What are the income requirements?

Applicants must earn less that 80% of the median income for one of the five counties. That's a number that is determined by the Federal Government and changes from year to year. (Call and we will let you know the current limits for your county) In addition, applicants show that they have stable and dependable income. The USDA prefers that an applicant have been on his or her present job for at least 6 months. Self-employed applicants must have 2 years net business income.

Finally, to qualify for a USDA home mortgage, applicants must demonstrate the ability to repay the loan.

What are the requirements concerning my current housing situation?

Applicants must not own housing adequate to meet their needs.

What are the terms of the USDA home mortgage loan?

Loans are for up to 33 years (38 years for those with incomes below 60% of the area median and who cannot afford 33-year terms). The promissory note interest rate is set by the USDA. Interest rates vary based on the applicant's income. They tend to be at or below market rate, and they can be as low as 1%. Very low income applicants must have enough income so that the payments they make for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance don't add up to more than 29% of their income, and their total debt can't add up to more than 41% of their income. For all other applicants, principal, interest, taxes, and insurance cannot add up to more than 33% of their income, and the maximum ratio of total debt to income remains at 41%.

What if I have not established any credit?

Sometimes people make payments that do not show up on a credit report. You may pay rent, utility bills, auto insurance, and/or you may have been putting a little money in savings each month, which is another form of payment. But with none of the above, no checking account, and no other type of credit, it can be very difficult for us to help you get your home loan, even if you have good income! If this is the case, and you want to own your own home, you should at a minimum begin renting a place. Open a checking account and savings account.

What if my credit is not so good?

Generally there is no quick and easy fix to getting ahead of debt obligations when you are behind. Budgeting is one very good way that has been proven to work. In the meantime, you may still apply to the self-help program. You will be put on our waiting list until your income and credit meet the program and loan qualification requirements. Here are some of the USDA 502 loan parameters pertaining to credit, the following is a list that includes, BUT not limited to the following:

  • All, debts, including existing utilities, should be current and have a history of timely payments.
  • Child support payments must be current.
  • Not more that one payment over 30 days late within the last 12 months.
  • There can be no outstanding collections within the previous 6 months.
  • There can be no charges offs in the last 3 years.
  • There can be no bankruptcy in the last 3 years.
  • There can be no debt delinquency.
  • All judgments must be satisfied in full.

Exceptions
To the above rules are sometimes granted for situations that arise which are outside of your control. These are granted on a case by case basis only. This is not an all inclusive list of parameters. If you have any questions regarding your credit, please contact us and we can visit with you.

What is mutual self-help housing?

Mutual self-help housing provides an opportunity for many working, low-income families to achieve the American dream of homeownership. The program makes homes affordable by allowing families to contribute "sweat equity" to lower the cost of their homes. A self-help group is organized to provide labor for the group members' new homes. The group consists of 4 to 8 families who work together under the guidance of a construction supervisor.

The houses are built simultaneously and no family moves into their new house until every house in the self-help group is complete.

What is the Water Sense Program?

Northwest Regional Housing is pleased to announce that we now provide Water Sense Certified Homes. In accordance with the EPA standards, this provides our family with a water efficient home not only in the fixtures and their water heater systems as well as landscape requirements. Conserving water and protecting the environment is important to NWRHA as well as each family. In addition to saving water, the Water Sense Program helps families save money on their monthly bill. Hot water reaches fixtures within seconds; this in return saves gallons of unused water daily!

When will I know it is my turn for an opportunity to be a Building Group Member?

Applicants are chosen from the wait list for an opportunity to be in the next Building Group based upon a number of criteria including: date application received, credit history, income, and desired building area.
 

Are families with disabled or handicapped members eligible?

Yes. However, there is no reduction in the labor contribution to the building group for any participating family. In cases where one of the future owners cannot physically do construction, work, arrangements, for additional work from approved helpers must be made by the participant. There are also house plan modifications available when there are special needs in a household.

Are payments made while the house is being built?

No. Monthly payments generally will begin one month after the final inspection of the house or one month after the permanent loan is closed.

Are there any other requirements to qualify for the program?

Yes. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, legal resident aliens, or U.S. nationals. Applicants must also have the ability and willingness to perform the required labor. They must be able to provide their own basic hand tools (for instance: measuring tape, hammer, speed square, nail apron). And they must be able to provide their own transportation to and from the work sites.

How do I know if I am eligible for the program?

The main eligibility requirements have to do with your income, your credit history, and your current housing situation.

How is the work scheduled?

Once all the members of a group have been qualified, NWRHA will conduct pre-construction training and orientation. Part of this process will include determining work schedules that accommodate each household's other obligations.

How long does the process take?

After the pre-qualification interview, if the individual(s) are eligible for the program they will by placed on a waiting list. Thereafter, groups are formed, building location is determined, and this process could take one month to nine months.

How long will it take to build my house and how much time will I be required to commit each week?

Generally you should anticipate 7 to 8 months construction time. Each week each household in the building group will be responsible for 25-30 hours of productive labor. The goal is to provide approximately 65% of the labor required to build homes for all the households in the group. Remember, no family moves until all the houses are complete.

How much cash out-of-pocket will I need?

Anticipate having a couple hundred dollars saved for a credit report, some basic hand tools, weather protective clothing, boots, etc. Before construction can begin you will have to purchase Builder's Risk Insurance, approx $400 +/-. When the homes are completed and prior to moving into your new home you may need an additional $500 +/- for your first year's homeowner's insurance.

How much will my house payment be?

That's a tough question, because your interest rate will be based on your income. In fact, as your income changes so may your interest rate, but never less than 1% and never more than the maximum rate at the time of your loan closing. We cannot even venture to guess at a number because there are so many variables. But we can say that through self-help housing programs since 1963 the USDA has loaned more than $1.7 billion to working families who have built more than 35,000 new homes.

I would like to know if I qualify for the program and the home loan before a Building Group is being formed?

As we have a limited budget and staff, it is not possible to fully prequalify all of our applicants. Much of the information we provide in this document are based on the questions we have received over the years. Most of the answers to your questions can be found here.

If, after reviewing this website and information we have provided through the mail, you still have questions, please email us at selfhelphousing@nwregionalhousing.org or call us at (870) 743-6779.

We will be happy to answer your questions.