Affordable homes to be built by prisoners

   The not-for-profit North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC) is hosting meetings on a program in which federal and state prisoners will build affordable houses within penitentiary walls that will be sold to qualifying buyers.

    The program is called Aspire Partnership Homes, and the meetings are at 6:30 pm. April 22 at the NECAC Warren County Service Center, 120 E. Main in Warrenton, and 6:30 p.m. May 1 at the NECAC St. Charles County Service Center, 3400 Meadow Pointe Drive, in O’Fallon.

   Applications will be taken and investors of rental properties are welcome.

   “All houses are new with industry-standard features,” said NECAC Home Ownership Programs Director Debbie Smith. “This program will allow many people who could not normally afford a home the opportunity to realize their dreams.”

   Partnering in the program with NECAC are the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Carpenters Union District Council of Greater St. Louis.

   Applicants must be able to qualify for a regular loan and have annual household incomes not exceeding $44,000 for a two-person family and $51,000 for a family of three or more people. They also must be able to pay for their foundations, utility hookups, flooring and carpet.

   The ranch-style homes feature two bedrooms and one bathroom. They will be about 1,008 square feet.

   The houses will be built one-at-a-time based upon customer demand by prisoners at a federal or state penitentiary. Carpenters union apprentices and instructional teams will provide instructional assistance.

   The homes will be transported to site locations by an experienced moving company and set on basements. General contractors will do plumbing and electrical installation.

   Start-up funding for the project comes from the Carpenters union. Home sales will help finance the program’s costs down the road.

   The program is modeled after one in South Dakota. NECAC is working with Missouri lawmakers and the Department of Corrections to look at setting up a state program. The agency received approval for the program late last year from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

   NECAC will work with participating families through homeownership classes and offer mortgage information.

   For more information, or to sign up for the program, call Smith at (573) 324-6622.