PASCO — Ko Htoo counts the new Pasco home his family will move into today among the blessings he has received in recent years.
Htoo's home is a landmark in many ways, as the 75th Habitat for Humanity Tri-Cities home.
And for Htoo, who goes by Daniel, and his wife, Seng Ra Htoo, it is the first home they will own.
The Htoos came to the Tri-Cities in 2009 as refugees from Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma. Escaping the turmoil between the Karen rebels and the military-run government with the help of World Relief is one of the many blessings Daniel Htoo counts.
Then Htoo, who was a delivery truck driver in Myanmar, found a job in 2010 after some difficulty. He works at Richland's Shilo Inn driving a hotel van and doing maintenance.
Htoo, who volunteers for World Relief as an interpreter of Burmese and Karen, said the job appealed to him because he gets to practice his English. He also speaks Malay and Japanese.
Then in 2011, their first child, Grace, was born.
And now, Htoo, 33, has his first house.
"This is such a blessing from God that I got a brand new house," he said.
Htoo said he found out about the home ownership program from Habitat for Humanity's website. He saw one of his friends pictured there as one of the families to receive a Habitat home and asked him how he did it.
But when he applied for a home, Htoo said he earned barely enough to make the income requirements.
He got the call telling him his family qualified while he was at work last spring. Htoo said he shouted, "Yes!" and, "Praise the Lord," and hotel guests were looking at him.
The Htoos' home is the 29th house Habitat for Humanity is building in Tierra Vida, an east Pasco subdivision built by Community Alliance for Service and Advancement, an affiliate of Broetje Orchards. It will be the last home the nonprofit builds in that development.
The Htoos are receiving the 75th home. The nonprofit built its first in 1994.
The home dedication today at noon also will include board members from Habitat for Humanity's first home in the Tri-Cities and the owner of the first house.
All of those families are current on their payments, said Theresa Richardson, Habitat for Humanity's executive director.
The nonprofit never has had a foreclosure, which she calls exceptional.
"This is a landmark for us, 75 homes," Richardson said.
In addition, it also is the first that ReStore, Habitat for Humanity's Richland store, has been able to sponsor from its proceeds, Richardson said.
The sponsorship, worth $75,000, helps buy building materials. Htoo and his family also put in more than 500 hours of work for their home.
"They were so eager and enthusiastic," Richardson said.
Habitat homes are worth about $98,000, and families pay less than $600 a month for mortgage, insurance and taxes, she said. The family will have a 20-year interest-free loan from Habitat for Humanity.
That's less than the rent Htoo said his family pays on their one-bedroom apartment in Kennewick.
Htoo said his family is grateful for Habitat for Humanity's assistance and for all the construction workers who helped build their home. After the dedication today, Htoo said they will move in with help from friends.
Seng Ra Htoo, 36, said in Karen that she is looking forward to decorating their new home, especially Grace's room.
Daniel Htoo said they plan to have yellow walls with animals for the nursery.