One day long ago, a child came home from school with a very special flier in her backpack. It told about an opportunity for her parents to own a safe, decent, affordable home for her and her family. Though hard-working and responsible, her parents did not make enough to qualify for a conventional mortgage, or to find rental housing that was secure or big enough for the family of five. With a prayer, they inquired at Habitat for Humanity, and before long were busy at work building their house — in Pasco.
That was 20 years ago. In 2014, this family was one of three who made final payments on the first Habitat homes constructed in the Tri-Cities. Not only do they own their home free and clear, but they continue to grow and prosper and contribute to the community — including that young school girl who has now worked her way through college.
We are thrilled that this story has been repeated over and over in various forms throughout the years, as we continue to work with lower income families to build and own their homes.
Looking forward, there is bad news and good news. The bad news is that there are more families in need of stable homes than we have resources to partner and build with. These families are working hard to get ahead and would benefit greatly from partnering with Habitat — if only there were an opportunity for them.
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This leads us to the good news. Last year, we added to our team, increased our land bank, merged with the Walla Walla affiliate, and began plans for building in other communities. These steps enable us to reach forward to build a promising future for more families. Studies consistently show that a safe, affordable home may be the one change a child needs in order to realize their dream of college and career. This inspires us to work even harder to help make sure this happens, for as many children as possible.
Habitat owns enough land to build eight homes per year through 2017. That means we can focus on laying foundations, raising walls, setting roofs, installing doors. By the end of 2015, at least eight more families will be in homes — two in Kennewick, five in Pasco, and one in Walla Walla. That will include four major build efforts: Battelle’s sponsored build starting this spring, a Bethel Church build starting this spring, a one-week Homebuilders Blitz in April, and a Women Build week in May.
Crews began building in Walla Walla at the end of last year, and we anticipate that home will be completed this summer. Plans in Walla Walla also include the opening of a Habitat Store this year, and fundraising events to build community engagement there.
As a tri-county organization, our work must expand into outlying areas, such as Prosser and Connell. We are excited to see interest and investment by members of the Connell community. Habitat has secured land there, and is forming an Operations Committee that will help oversee the first Connell Habitat build.
Our work this year also includes Home Preservation, which is growing in awareness and engagement every year. Through critical home repairs, weatherization and modifications such as wheelchair ramps, lower-income homeowners challenged by age, disability,or circumstance improve the condition of their homes and their quality of life. Often, these projects make it possible for them to even stay in their own home. This year, these one-day/short-term projects will again take place primarily on Impact Day in the spring, and Make a Difference Day in the fall. We anticipate completing 30 projects, with the help of generous volunteer teams from the community.
We are grateful for the continued involvement of this community. It is because of partners, supporters and friends that one girl’s family — and 100 others — live with the security and satisfaction that only a home can bring. Build on!