SEATTLE – (RealEstateRama) — Thanks to a $5 million loan from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Tacoma and Spokane will build an additional 25 homes in each community in the next few years.
The loan from the Housing Finance Commission to Habitat for Humanity of Washington State, which in turn loaned $2.5 million each to the two affiliates, is a pilot program that both agencies hope will grow.
“We’ve been talking with Habitat for several years about how we could partner more effectively,” said Karen Miller, chair of the Housing Finance Commission. “We’re so glad to have found this solution and look forward to continuing to support Habitat’s mission.”
Habitat for Humanity, an international nonprofit, builds simple, affordable homes that are sold to lowincome families who also donate “sweat equity” during construction, working side by side with community volunteers. In Washington state, the average cost to build a Habitat home is $100,000, not including land.
Michone Preston, outreach director for Habitat for Humanity’s statewide organization, said the partnership with the Commission is revolutionary for the organization.
We’ve been moving at a snail’s pace, building each home one at a time as we raise philanthropic dollars,” said Preston. “But this loan infuses our affiliates with cash to start and finish projects.”
In addition, the loans are expected to help the two Habitat affiliates raise further funds from donors and energize the volunteers who are critical to building Habitat homes.
“If you don’t have momentum, it’s very hard to get donors interested in buying the land, excavating the hole, laying the groundwork,” said Preston. “But once you have lumber, nails and hammers on the site, donors get really excited.
“Also, it’s exhausting and disheartening to volunteers when there’s an overwhelming need in their communities and they can’t respond at a similar rate to the demand,” she added. “With this infusion, our donors and volunteers gain confidence and energy.”
In Spokane, the loan has allowed Habitat for Humanity-Spokane to double its inventory over the next three years, from 25 to 50 homes.
“Partnerships like this keep us competitive in the housing and nonprofit arena,” said Michelle Girardot, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Spokane. “We’ve also enjoyed an increase in other funders to diversify our funding portfolio because of this partnership.”
In Tacoma-Pierce County, the funds will enable the local Habitat affiliate to begin building New Tillicum North in Lakewood, a seven-home development that continues Habitat’s ongoing revitalization of Lakewood’s Tillicum neighborhood.
It will also hasten the completion of Tacoma-Pierce County Habitat’s largest project to date, The Woods at Golden Given. The Woods is a 30-unit, sustainably built cottage-design community near PLU’s campus, including a common house, community garden, sports field and playground.
“We operate on a very thin margin and this is a great example of maximizing our assets,” said Maureen Fife, CEO of Tacoma-Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. “This partnership is helping us to make the dream of owning your own home a reality for hard-working low-income families in Pierce County.”
If the pilot is successful, the loan program could become a self-sustaining resource that Habitat affiliates could access through an application and review process. Preston said they are already showing interest.
“If we continue, this could jump-start production of Habitat homes all across the state,” said Preston. “It’s an exciting change.”
The new partnership will also support Habitat’s statewide organization, which will keep half a percent of the interest as the affiliates repay the loans. This will cover staffing to facilitate and administer the loans, and will also cover legal and administrative expenses.
The Washington State Housing Finance Commission is a publicly accountable, self-supporting team that brings private investment dollars to benefit families and achieve public goals throughout Washington. Over 30 years, the Commission has created and preserved affordable apartments and homeownership for more than 334,000 people across the state, while contributing more than $42.5 billion and 240,000 jobs to the economy.
Habitat for Humanity Washington is part of an international, nonprofit organization that helps families build, renovate and repair their own homes using volunteer labor and donations, serving over 800,000 families since 1976.
Washington state’s 30 Habitat affiliates have built 1,900 new homes in communities large and small.
(at) Habitat (dot) org Facebook.com/Habitat
margret.graham (at) wshfc (dot) org
michone (at) habitatwa (dot) org