U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan has announced that $26.5 million is available in "sweat equity" grants to produce homes for low-income individuals and families through HUD's Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). "Even during these hard times, sustainable and responsible homeownership can be within reach for many families," said Donovan. "With HUD's support and the 'sweat equity' provided by the homebuyers' the American Dream is still attainable to those who would otherwise be unable to purchase a home." HUD's Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for these grants can be accessed on grants.gov. SHOP grants will be provided to national and regional nonprofit organizations and consortia that have experience in administering self-help housing programs. The funds must be used to purchase land and install or improve infrastructure, which together may not exceed an average investment of $15,000 per dwelling. Applicants may carry out activities directly and/or propose to distribute SHOP funds to local nonprofit affiliates that will acquire and prepare the land for construction, select homebuyers, coordinate the homebuyer sweat equity and volunteer efforts, and assist in the arrangement of interim and permanent financing for the homebuyers. Homebuyers must contribute a minimum of 100 hours of sweat equity on the construction of their homes and/or the homes of other homebuyers participating in the local self-help housing program. Self-help housing or sweat equity involves the homebuyer's participation in the construction of the housing, which can include, but is not limited to, assisting in the painting, carpentry, trim work, drywall, roofing and siding for the housing. Labor contributed by volunteers also helps buyers who are unable to perform their sweat equity tasks due to disabilities. The sweat equity and labor contributions by the homebuyers and volunteers significantly reduce the cost of the housing. The application deadline is Monday, Sept. 14, 2009. Applications must be received through www.grants.gov no later than 11:59 Eastern time on the application deadline. Please carefully read the timely receipt information in the General Section and the SHOP NOFA. For more information, visit www.hud.gov.