Housing policies are undergoing changes worldwide. In the United States, responsibility for low income housing is increasingly shifting from governmental entities to communitybased non-profit organizations fueled by volunteers and by low-income individuals themselves. The self-help housing movement represents a dramatic shift, not only in housing policy and in the physical design of buildings in which people live, but perhaps more significantly, in its potential impact upon residentparticipants. This research employs surveys and interviews conducted with low_income, primarily minority urban mothers participating in Habitat for Humanity's self_help housing program. Interviews were coil during the early stages of the women's involvement in the program while they were residing in their original home, and again after they had resided in their new homes for several months. By this time, they had worked side-by-side with volunteers, investing hundreds of hours of sweat equity toward the construction of their own home. This research provides insight into the efficacy of the selfhelp housing model. Among factors impacted are the mothers' feelings of empowerment, their view of themselves and their family, and attitudes about the future. These issues have important implications in terms of the broader efficacy of housing policy and programs. Housing need not be merely about shelter but may, through empowerment, also influence issues of community-building, educational achievement, employment success, and family solidarity.