Habitat for Humanity to build 10 homes here

January 20, 2009

By Jeff Richards

Currently, nothing but an empty lot exists at the intersection of 25th Street and Northeast Logan Street. But this year, Habitat for Humanity of East King County will begin construction on 10 new homes that will provide affordable housing in Issaquah Highlands.

Habitat Executive Director Tom Granger said he is excited to see development in a location that is great for families, with developing commerce and a close proximity to transit.

“A diverse community is a healthy community,” he said. “Now, hard-working, hourly wage earners can continue to live in the place they were born and raised.”

Habitat construction manager Lee Brannam said he hopes to begin work on the infrastructure by April, which would keep builders on schedule to finish the homes by 2012.

Construction will consist of five buildings, each a duplex. This is the first Habitat for Humanity development in Issaquah since the construction of two homes on Front Street more than a decade ago.

Habitat for Humanity is a national nonprofit organization, which seeks to develop affordable housing for low-income families. The homes are built with the help of community donations and volunteer work, and are sold to chosen applicants for the cost it took to build the home.

Habitat for Humanity relies on an approximately 90-percent volunteer force in order to build homes.

“Usually, most of [the volunteers] are company groups from places like Microsoft or Boeing, not a lot from trades,” Brannam said. “We do have six to 10 regulars who come out every year and are very skilled.”

Brannam said Habitat usually receives about 3,500 volunteers, split between two construction sites. Volunteers work beside AmeriCorps staff members, who supervise the work.

“When they volunteer, they get to see [AmeriCorps] in action,” Granger said.

Habitat homeowners are chosen based on their need, their ability to pay the mortgage, and they must have had a residence or employment in King County for at least one year.

To be eligible for Habitat housing, the household cannot make more than 50 percent of the median income, which was $32,550 for a household of two for King County in 2008.

Granger said Habitat will begin accepting applications at its first information meeting at the end January; decisions will be made on who will be awarded sale of the homes by the time construction begins this summer.

As a down payment, residents pay 500 hours worth of sweat equity by helping with the construction of their own home and their neighbors’ homes.

The homes will be constructed under the Built Green program of the Master Builders Association, which means standards will be in place for water quality and conservation, energy efficiency, indoor air quality and use of building materials in a manner that conserves limited resources.

The Issaquah Highlands must contain at least 30 percent affordable housing, according to the development agreement between the city of Issaquah and Port Blakely Communities, the developer of the highlands.

The agreement contains three levels of affordable living: low income, for people earning less than 80 percent of the median income in King County; moderate income, for people earning between 80 and 100 percent of the median income; and middle income, for people earning between 100 and 120 percent of the median income.

All affordable housing units must adhere to the architectural guidelines of the Issaquah Highlands.

The goal of affordable housing is to provide a home for local employees with low incomes, such as schoolteachers and police officers.

Since its founding in 1988, the East King County branch has built 86 homes.

Habitat for Humanity will have information meetings beginning in January. There, people can learn more about Habitat and whether they are eligible for Habitat housing.

If you go

Habitat for Humanity  information meeting

6:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 2, March 3

Public meeting room

Library Administration Service Center

960 Newport Way N.W.

369-3200

On the Web

Learn more about Habitat for Humanity of East King County at www.habitatekc.org.

Reach intern Jeff Richards at 392-6434, ext. 236, or isspress@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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