As the DJC first reported early last year, Habitat for Humanity was contemplating an affordable housing project on a Columbia City property that had been foreclosed by its lender. And, last summer, that mid-block site at 5022 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. sold for a bit over $1.3 million to a Habitat-related LLC. Kidder Mathews represented the lender and seller.
The new five-story, 58-unit plan by JWArchitects recently had its permit application accepted by the city. No design review is required since it’s an entirely affordable proposal. It also includes six surface parking stalls, to be accessed from a driveway on the building’s south side.
As you know, Habitat for Humanity believes in a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. With the next Legislative session in full swing, we would like to let you in on some of the bills HFH SKKC will be supporting that align with our vision!
To amplify Habitat’s Black Homeownership Initiative, Habitat for Humanity SKKC has launched a Debt Remediation Pilot Program (DRPP). The overall ratio of Black homebuyer applicants is only 6%. Of those, 10% are denied. While the SKKC affiliate has long maintained a higher ratio of Black homeowners at 34%, it realized more needed to be done to help those impacted by historical redlining and institutionalized credit policies.
Excessive debt is often an obstacle to Black homebuyers, particularly first-time homebuyers. Habitat’s Debt Remediation Pilot Program is aimed at removing that obstacle by paying off those debts and enabling the buyer to secure financing from a traditional lender. Habitat staff are collaborating with other community housing organizations, such as The Urban League, HomeSight, and Africatown to recruit qualifying candidates for the program.
Applicants referred to Habitat SKKC will be selected using standard criteria, with the final review point being their excessive debt. Once applicants meet the criteria for participation in Habitat home buying, their debt is reviewed and paid. Types of debt that might qualify under this new program include deferred student loans, tax liens or other government judgments, and others assessed on a case-by-case basis, such as medical debt, debts due to identity theft, etc. Their refreshed credit status allows lenders to finance the buyer.
The DRPP agreement adds a level of oversight to the traditional Habitat homebuyer process. Habitat staff simply monitor the homebuyer’s finances monthly to insure there are no changes in income or assets while their home is under construction. The DRPP funding of $250,000 aims to support 5-10 households in Habitat’s 2022-2023 fiscal year.
Homebuyers participating in the DRPP contribute an additional 125 hours of sweat equity and sign their final agreement when their home is completed. The debt payment is built into the buyer’s affordable house payment. When the home is sold back to SKKC, the debt payment portion of the sale will be returned to the Pilot Program’s account to help future Black homebuyers.
Homeownership in the U.S. constitutes the largest component of median household wealth through intergenerational wealth transfer. The wealth gap created by generations of discriminatory housing practices has left Black families without the benefit of decades of real estate appreciation, which could be leveraged to help their children and grandchildren become homeowners, pay for college, or weather financial challenges.
The Debt Remediation Pilot Program is another step toward chipping away at institutionalized obstacles to Black Homeownership, and it represents Habitat SKKC’s deep commitment to supporting Black families in the region. For more information on Habitat for Humanity SKKC’s new Debt Remediation Pilot Program, please visit: https://buyhabitat.org/debt-remediation-fund/
At our Volunteer & Donor Appreciation Night at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Ballard in December, Habitat for Humanity SKKC celebrated the volunteers, donors and advocates who form the engine that drives our affiliate’s success. Because of the contributions made in 2022 by Habitat volunteers, donors, and advocates, 50 King and Kittitas County families who couldn’t otherwise own their own homes are eligible for homeownership in 2023. And that’s only the beginning.
In more than 30,000 hours of donated time and work, our volunteers were able to build, renovate, and repair 74 homes last year. Volunteers who staffed Habitat stores sold over 400,000 items the proceeds of which provide financial support to augment all that hard work. The hours and results testify to the joy of working with others to create safe, affordable homes for people from all walks of life.
And some volunteers received special recognition for going above and beyond in 2022 – the following individuals were recognized as Habitat “All Stars.”
Mary Castillo – Habitat Stores Volunteer of the Year
Nancy Blase – Homeowner Services Volunteer of the Year
Beverly Skeffington, Diane Lampe, Terie McCunn – Construction Volunteers of the Year
Gary Fallon – 2022 Habitat SKC Volunteer of the Year
At the event, Habitat inaugurated the Manny Weiser Volunteer Service Award named in memory of long-time volunteer Manny and the incredible dedication and supportive attitude he brought to the work site every day. The first winners of this award for exceptional service are an itinerant team of young adults from Christian Public Service. This group travels the country fulfilling six-month service terms at places like hospitals and nursing homes. Habitat has benefited from their help and expertise on our build sites twice a week for many years.
If these people and their accomplishments inspire you, now is the perfect time to reach out and reap the joy of volunteering. Simply email email@example.com to learn more, and with luck, Habitat will be celebrating your impacts in the years ahead!
Our third stop is in Renton, where Wanda Maldonado recently purchased a home from Habitat for Humanity.
You may be familiar with Habitat — they’ve been building affordable single family homes since the 1970s. But there’s something new they’re doing now that adds another solution to the mix: they’re building something called “missing middle housing.” We’ll get to that in a minute.
Wanda Maldonado was already crowded with two teenaged daughters and a small dog named Jiffy in their two-bedroom apartment on Beacon Hill when their family added yet another member.
Hurricanes and an earthquake had left her father in Puerto Rico sick and isolated. Maldonado took him in.
“It was time, it was past time,” she said.
But where would she put him? She tried stuffing him into a shared room with daughters, who were already at each others’ throats, “fighting over clothes, and don’t touch this.” It didn’t work.
Thanks to Maldonado’s careful financial habits, she was pre-approved for a $400,000 home purchase. But she kept getting outbid on everything.
Luckily for her, Habitat for Humanity in King County had made a strategic change that allowed it to serve a lot more people. They decided to stop building single-family homes and focus exclusively on duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, row houses, and small condo buildings. That’s “missing middle housing,” the kind of housing serving middle-income families that’s been missing from the market.
Brett D’Antonio is the CEO of the local Habitat branch.
But by developing only in areas that have up-zoned to accommodate density, “whether it’s townhomes or stacked flat condos, we’re able to build 50 or more homes a year.” Maldonado said her four-bedroom row house has solved many of her problems, and that everyone now has their own rooms.
Habitat has started investing heavily in communities that allow missing middle housing options. In fact, it’s new zoning rules allowing things like backyard cottages that have drawn Habitat back to Seattle, where’s they’re now investing heavily after years of avoiding the city. They’ve been working on a South Park project that replaced a single-family home with 13 small homes, and recently completed another multifamily project in Lake City.