Habitat for Humanity breaks ground June 11
June 2, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
Affordable houses for 10 families will begin to rise in the Issaquah Highlands in the next several months, local Habitat for Humanity officials said last week.
Habitat officials and volunteers will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking June 11 to kick off construction of five duplexes near the intersection of Northeast Magnolia Street and Northeast Logan Street.
Habitat for Humanity of East King County volunteers will build the houses on nearly an acre of land, which Habitat purchased with help from the city, highlands developer Port Blakely Communities and A Regional Coalition for Housing, an organization of Eastside cities and King County that works to increase the supply of affordable housing.
Jodi Bridges, special events and communications officer for the local Habitat branch, described the highlands effort as the first Habitat project in Issaquah in 15 years, and the first new project for the Redmond-based affiliate since 2004.
The homes will range from 1,000 to 1,400 square feet, and from two to four bedrooms. Construction is scheduled for completion by 2012. Volunteers will complete 90 percent of the labor. Families in the Habitat program are required to contribute 500 hours of sweat equity toward their new homes.
Tom Granger, executive director of the local Habitat branch, said he looked forward to the day when families would occupy the planned homes.
“It’s just a beautiful location, and I’m very happy our families will be able to live in such a place,” he said.
Granger said site work at the highlands site would likely begin in July. The first volunteer build day is scheduled in July as well.
Bridges said Habitat had not decided which families would occupy the highlands homes.
Habitat families earn $20,400 to $40,700 — less than half of the 2008 King County median income for a family of four. To earn their homes, they must contribute the volunteer hours by working on their house or another Habitat property. Homeowners are required to live or work in King County for at least a year.
Habitat homeowners are chosen based on their need and ability to pay the mortgage.
Habitat homes are sold at cost — about $100,000. Homeowners repay no-interest loans. Habitat retains ownership of the land.
Since the local Habitat affiliate was founded in 1988, volunteers have built 86 homes across the Eastside.
The development agreement between the city and Port Blakely mandates at least 30 percent affordable housing in the highlands. In turn, affordable housing units are required to meet architectural guidelines for the highlands.
Granger credited the city and Port Blakely for taking steps to address the lack of affordable housing. He said Habitat works alongside communities to confront the challenge.
In addition, the Habitat houses will be constructed to Built Green standards set by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. The standards include benchmarks for water quality and conservation, energy efficiency and indoor air quality. The project will be built with materials that aim to limit the impact on the environment.
The houses will also be built to the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard, a set of eco-friendly criteria set by the state.
Homes will be outfitted with Energy Star appliances. Energy Star is a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy that promotes household products that require less energy to operate.
Granger said his organization hopes to educate people about green building practices, and how they can be cost effective.
“If we can really demonstrate our ability to do that in affordable housing,” then green building can set an example for other homebuilding projects, Granger said. He said the practices were cost effective because savings related to energy and water conservation offset additional upfront costs.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.