Tri-Cities’ Habitat takes on ambitious new project in Pasco
This fall Habitat Tri-County Partners, which includes Habitat for Humanity partners in Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties, dug into an ambitious new housing project, the Whitehouse Addition in Pasco.
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“It’s by far our largest build ever,” said Rick Jansons, executive director of Habitat Tri-County Partners.
Just a few short weeks ago, Habitat Tri-County Partners dedicated houses number 90 and 91. When the Whitehouse Addition is complete, the nonprofit organization will add another 24 homes to that list.
The property owners, the Richard E. and Penny Y. Welch Trust, contacted Jansons more than two years ago about buying their land for building Habitat homes.
“But we just didn’t have the money at the time,” Jansons said.
However he and the landowners kept talking. In the meantime Habitat Tri-County Partners received several grants, enabling them to strike a deal to purchase the land.
“The amount raised so far has covered buying the land. We then built the infrastructure, the roads and the water lines. The land was simply a bare field,” he said.
Habitat (International) is a Christian nonprofit organization, Jansons said. “And I can tell you God defiantly gave us a hand in this deal,” he said.
According to public records from the Franklin County Assessors’ office, Habitat Tri-County Partners paid $170,000 in September 2014 for the 4.6 acres near Whittier Elementary School and Highland Park, off N. Wehe Avenue in Pasco. That is where they created the Whitehouse Addition subdivision.
“There will be roughly 60 to 70 children between the 24 families, making this a great location for homes. There are no roads between the homes and the park and the school is within walking distance,” Jansons said.
Habitat Tri-County Partners broke ground on the first homes in the Whitehouse Addition this fall. The plan is to build the homes in groups of eight and have them all completed within three years.
“Give or take a few months, depending on the weather,” he said.
One of the homes in progress is the “Coug House,” which is being built in partnership with Washington State University Tri-Cities. The Construction Trades class at Tri-Tech High School, under the direction of Tony Milewski, will build two more homes on foundations that are ready for construction. Those houses are expected to be finished by April or May.
The Habitat for Humanity homes are not free. The families who are approved to Habitat-built homes must put in 500 hours of sweat equity, by helping build their home or another. The first of the future homeowners of the Whitehouse Addition are already working on homes in Kennewick.
“As soon as they’re approved, they begin to volunteer with us,” Jansons said. “And most keep on working on other homes because they’ve made friends with the other volunteers.”
As each home is completed, Habitat Tri-County Partners negotiates a mortgage with the new homeowners.
“We make the mortgage affordable for them,” Jansons said. “Habitat is also a mortgage company, but charges no interest, no fees. They make payments to Habitat and the money is used to purchase more land, to build more houses.”
Habitat Tri-County Partners still needs volunteers and sponsors for the Whitehouse Addition houses.
Each home costs about $96,000 and requires 250 volunteers or more and 2,000 volunteer hours to build. To complete all 24 homes in the Whitehouse Addition will take $3.4 million, 48,000 volunteer hours.
To volunteer, apply at the website, www.habitatbuilds.com or call the office at 509-943-5555.
“You can volunteer for a few hours, a single day or every week,” Jansons said.
Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older, though Habitat will accept 16- and 17-year-old volunteers with parental permission.
Habitat supplies all tools. Simply dress for the weather in work clothes and pack a lunch.
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To volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, apply at the website, www.habitatbuilds.com or call the office at 509-943-5555. To become a house sponsor or for more information on sponsorships, contact Lisa Godwin, Habitat Tri-County Partners’ development director at 509-943-5555 ext. 207 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can also being accepted online at www.habitatbuilds.com.