On July 8th, Habitat for Humanity held a special sneak peek for their newest project in Deer Park, Janessa’s house.
Traditionally, Habitat for Humanity partners with community volunteers to build these special homes. However, this current project is the first Home Builder’s Blitz for this area. Habitat for Humanity partnered with Viking Homes, and the Spokane Builders Association and their members to fund most of the supplies and to provide the labor for this project. The accelerated build began in July and will run through September. When completed, Janessa’s home will be featured in the Spokane Home Builders Association’s 14th annual Fall Festival of Homes.
This blitz build for Janessa and her family is unique in many ways. On most of their builds, Habitat for Humanity uses similar floor plans, typically with three rooms. The floor plan for Janessa’s house was altered slightly to add a fourth bedroom in order to accommodate Janessa and her family. While touring the framed home, Janessa commented that her children were most excited about being able to decorate their rooms, something that is not possible in apartment life. In fact, her son wants to “paint his bedroom orange like a basketball.”
When asked what their first meal in the home would be, Janessa said most likely spaghetti because that is a meal that everyone in the family likes. According to their website (habitat-spokane.org), “Janessa partnered with Habitat-Spokane after learning about the Homeownership Program through another local non-profit. She was accepted into the program based on her need, her ability to pay an affordable mortgage, and her willingness to partner with Habitat. As part of that partnership, Janessa has worked hard toward achieving her dream of homeownership, completing approximately 300 out of 500 hours of her required sweat equity while also attending—and recently graduating from—college and working to support her family.”
Helping Families in Need
The goal of Habitat for Humanity is to make home ownership affordable for families in need. To qualify as a homebuyer, individuals must show that they are in need of a better place to live, and be willing to partner with Habitat for Humanity. That partnership requires 500 hours of sweat equity, homebuyer readiness and budget classes, as well as contributing $4,000 towards closing costs. The mortgage of each home is set up so that the purchasers do not pay more than 30% of their income in home expenses. These expenses include heating costs, so to help minimize that cost, Habitat homes are built well above code with extra insulation to prevent heat loss; as a result, the energy costs for many of these homes averages around $400 per year.
Another special feature of Habitat for Humanities homes is the ability to customize to fit each family’s unique style. As the home is being built, the participant gets to play a crucial role in the design by selecting things like outdoor paint, countertops, and floors. In addition to customizing, the buyers get to help with the work on their home through their volunteer hours. This is one of the major benefits of the required sweat equity hours; the purchaser has ability to help with the build of their home as well as neighboring homes. This volunteer time creates a unique personal investment in the buyer’s home and in their community months before they move in.
One of these unique communities is Hope Meadows located in Deer Park. With around 40 homes currently in place and more being built, Hope Meadows is a fast growing community thanks to local volunteers and community support. By working closely with the Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors’ (AGC) apprenticeship program and the City of Deer Park, Habitat for Humanity has also been able to build the infrastructure on their Hope Meadows development at a reasonable price. Funding for the materials needed for these homes comes from community support, volunteers, and donations.
To find out more about purchasing a home, or to get involved, visit www.habitat-spokane.org.