Month: July 2016
Golf Tournament Next Week!
Whatcom County Association of Realtors golf tournament to benefit Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County is this coming Thursday, August 4th at North Bellingham Golf Course. Join us for:
- Registration and a pizza lunch starting at 12:30pm
- Shotgun start at 1:30pm
- Cash prizes
- Beer holes
- BBQ afterwards
Register individually or in teams online here, or at the course (at 205 W. Smith Rd in Bellingham) beginning at 12:30pm. What a fun way to support Habitat!
We’re pleased to introduce Hillary, our new Resource Development Coordinator, to the Habitat team! Hillary first came to us in 2014 as a volunteer. “She made a LOT of Auction phone calls,” says Fred Sheppard, Resource Development Manager. That dedication and social skill makes her well suited to working with community members and businesses who want to support Habitat’s mission of building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. We’re thrilled to have her!
Speaking of shelter, we would like to hand over the Sumas house keys to the Gutierrez family before school starts in late August, but we’ve still got a fair amount of work to finish up. This coming Saturday, July 30th, we plan to lay down vinyl flooring, install cabinets, and paint. We need volunteers every weekend between now and August 20th to finish on time. Please consider joining us down the home stretch by calling Janet Straka at 360.715.9170 to sign up. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Play Golf for Habitat Next Week
Helping out at Habitat can also involve a nine iron, thanks to Whatcom County Association of Realtors. WCAR’s annual golf tournament is next Thursday, August 4th, at North Bellingham Golf Course. Because we’re the beneficiary of this year’s tournament, you can play golf and help Habitat at the same time! Shotgun start is at 1:30 PM and there will be prizes, BBQ, and even a few beer holes. Sign up individually or in teams here.
Myth: Habitat Gives Homes Away for Free
One of the most persistent myths about Habitat for Humanity is that we give houses away for free. In fact, we sell homes at cost to qualifying individuals/families like the Gutierrez family who demonstrate a willingness to partner with us. These folks are what we call Partner Homebuyers and make no mistake: they don’t just buy their homes, they work for them, too.
Becoming a Partner Homebuyer
Partner Homebuyers are selected based primarily on three things:
- Need for housing. People living in substandard or unsafe conditions are good possible candidates for our program. The Gutierrez family home is severely overcrowded, a problem which often creates health concerns as well, thereby marrying substandard with unsafe – a deleterious combination.
- Willingness to partner. Becoming a Partner Homebuyer means entering into a long-term relationship with Habitat for Humanity. In the first place, building a home takes time and hard work. Then, once the home is built, homeowners remit their mortgage payments to Habitat. All in all, we’re talking about a relationship of up to 30 years or more. And with 250 hours of sweat equity to complete before construction even begins, that relationship begins with labor. Folks like the Gutierrez family have consistently demonstrated their desire to work alongside us toward a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
- Ability to repay the mortgage. Partner Homebuyers like the Gutierrez family have a proven history of prompt bill payments and the documented ability to pay their mortgage each month.
Transitioning to Habitat Homeowner
Soon the Gutierrez family will move into their new home. This transition signifies the culmination of about 16 months of consistent effort. After joining our program in April of 2015, they rolled up their sleeves immediately and got to work, primarily in our store. Within 7 months they’d completed their first 250 hours of sweat equity. Not content to rest on their laurels, the Gutierrez family worked even harder, completing another 250 hours by the end of the year. The home they’ll soon move into is far from free. They’ve paid with their labor and enthusiasm and will continue to pay with their pocketbooks. A true partnership, we’re proud to call the Gutierrez family our next Habitat Homeowners.
Progress in Sumas
We’re getting closer to that house dedication we mentioned last month. The Gutierrez family home is coming along nicely with lots of work being done both inside and outside. Throughout June, volunteers helped to clean up the yard – filling in holes, pulling weeds, laying down planting mix and covering it with a protective layer of straw. Now Construction Manager Paul Stromdahl has his sights on finishing up the interior.
Making Home Affordable
Here at Habitat, we’re as committed to long-term housing affordability as we are to keeping purchase costs down. That’s why we prioritize energy efficiency. To help reduce the family’s energy bills, we received help and guidance from The Opportunity Council. “They demonstrated for us how to make the house more energy efficient,” Stromdahl said. Their Building Performance Center came out and tested the house for air leakage then advised us based on the results of those tests, even going so far as to loan us a cellulose insulation blower – a tool that would cost us approximately $50 per day (plus a $250 deposit) to rent. We couldn’t be more grateful.
Help Out at Sumas
With a goal of welcoming the Gutierrez family into their new home as soon as possible, we could use all the help we can get. If you’re interested in joining a work party, call (360) 715-9170 or email email@example.com to get details and let us know your availability.
What Is Sweat Equity?
Here at Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County we make reference to ‘sweat equity’ quite a bit. What are we talking about? Specifically, folks who become Partner Homebuyers must perform 500 hours of labor – sweat equity – as part of the home buying process. But sweat equity signifies more than just labor. It also represents cost reduction, pride of ownership, and community investment.
Sweat Equity Reduces Costs
In order to offer affordable housing, we must look for ways to keep construction costs down. Sweat equity is one of those ways. Sweat equity allows us to use less paid labor than would normally be necessary, thereby reducing the overall cost of the houses we build. Without sweat equity, Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County wouldn’t be able to offer housing so affordably. As it is, a typical mortgage payment (before insurance and taxes) ranges from around $350 to $500 per month. With only $500 down and zero interest to pay, that’s remarkably affordable housing.
Sweat Equity Builds Pride
Justus Kempthorne, a business owner in New York State, says, “When you build something yourself, it has a heartbeat.” We agree. Sweat equity builds pride by creating a personal investment in both home and community. Our Partner Homebuyers literally sweat over their homes and the homes of other Partner Homebuyers. They partner (hence the term Partner Homebuyer) with Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, going to work for us in the store, at build sites, in our office, and/or at events. In doing so, they invest not just in their own home, but in their community as well, thereby creating a sense of pride and belonging that often pays dividends in the form of consistent home maintenance and community participation for years to come.
Sweat equity is a winning strategy that’s good for Habitat, our Partner Homebuyers, and our community.