Volunteers help build Habitat homes

December 1, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Volunteers and future homeowners contribute sweat equity in November at the Habitat for Humanity construction site on Northeast Magnolia Street in Issaquah Highlands.By Habitat for Humanity of East King County

Volunteers and future homeowners contribute sweat equity in November at the Habitat for Humanity construction site on Northeast Magnolia Street in Issaquah Highlands.By Habitat for Humanity of East King County

Volunteers have poured into the Issaquah Highlands since July to help build Habitat for Humanity duplexes, and the residences should be completed by next fall.

The all-volunteer teams at the construction site along Northeast Magnolia Street are in the process of framing the units. Habitat of East King County Construction Manager Lee Brannam said the project generated “an amazing amount of support.”

Habitat for Humanity representatives and families joined city officials June 11 to break ground for the new development. Volunteers began construction work in earnest the next month.

When the project is completed, five duplexes will be available to house 10 families. Construction will take place in two phases. Residents should move into completed units next year, and another phase will be completed by 2012.

The units will be the first Habitat houses built in Issaquah in 15 years. Since the local Habitat affiliate was founded in 1988, volunteers have built more than 80 homes across the Eastside.

Brannam said volunteers from community organizations flocked to the highlands Habitat project.“Our numbers aren’t lacking on volunteers right now,” he added.

The ranks include Habitat families required by the program to contribute 500 hours of sweat equity toward their new homes. The residences planned for the highlands will include a mix of two- to four-bedroom units and range from 1,000 to 1,400 square feet.

“Families are out there working when they can,” Brannam said.

Habitat homeowners are picked based on need and ability to pay the mortgage. Families earn $20,400 to $40,700 — less than half of the 2008 King County median income for a family of four. Homeowners are also required to live or work in King County for at least a year. Habitat units are sold at cost — about $100,000 —and homeowners repay no-interest loans while Habitat retains ownership of the land.

The new units will also help satisfy part of the development agreement between the city and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities. The pact mandates at least 30 percent affordable housing in the highlands.

Jodi Bridges, special events and communications officer for the local Habitat branch, said at least two families had been selected for highlands units.

Mikel and Alissa Talton and their three children — Mikayla, 14, Hayleigh, 5, and Isaiah, 2 — earned a place in the highlands. So did the Reyes family: mother Lola, 19-year-old Patrick and 9-year-old Kyree. Both families told Habitat officials how they wanted to settle in the highlands and put down roots in a community.

The families attended the June groundbreaking, where Alissa Talton told the crowd how Habitat officials surprised her and said she and her husband, a Navy reservist, had been selected for the highlands development.

“I started crying and shaking,” she said. “I was so excited.”

How to help

Sign up to volunteer in construction or nonconstruction roles, or donate to Habitat for Humanity of East King County, at www.habitatekc.org.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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