Utah prison inmates building homes for state
October 14th, 2008 @ 10:05pm
By Lori Prichard
The State of Utah is now in the business of building and selling homes, in the hopes of providing those homes to lower- and middle-income families. The catch is some of those homes are being built by prison inmates.
Thirty-one-year-old Ervin Brafford showed off the one thing he's most proud of: a house. "Because when you get there, it's a dirt path. And at the end of it, you've got this," Brafford explained.
It's a 5-bedroom, 2-bath house in Salt Lake that a group of inmates from the Utah State Prison built. The prison system, along with the state-run Utah Housing Corporation, teamed up to build homes to offer them to lower-income families.
"We're in partnership in building affordable homes. We provide the kind of service that's just not done in the private sector," said Grant Whitaker, senior vice president of the Utah Housing Corporation.
Here's how it works: Inmates, like Brafford, who are on their way to being paroled are paid $1.50 an hour. Once the house is built, Utah Housing Corporation sells the home at a below-market mortgage rate to lower- and middle-income families.
"The equity is passed on to the homeowner by a lower mortgage amount," said Scott Harmon, housing program manger for the Utah Housing Coporation.
That means the buyer of the house will likely get $40,000 instant equity -- equity gained from paying these guys well below the $20 an hour they would otherwise get.
Brafford says that's OK with him. "I really enjoyed doing it. I learned so much. I get really excited. I think my boss is sick of hearing it because I ask a million and one questions," he said.
Brafford says the days of "sneaking his way by" are over. This house helped him turn his life around.
The house is just over 1,800 square feet and is being sold for just under $240,000. If you'd like more information, you can contact the Utah Housing Corporation at (801) 902-8200 or via e-mail by clicking here.