By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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“It means security in my life,” Hernandez said of her new house in Port Angeles being built now by Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County at Third and Washington streets in Port Angeles.
“It means respect from the community,” Hernandez said. “That’s what it means to me.”
Hernandez, 37, has been spending most Saturdays for the past five months or so putting in her “sweat equity” time, that is, working on building her own home as part of her agreement with Habitat.
Hernandez said two of her four children, 19-year-old son Josue Cadenas and 18-year-old daughter Vianey Cadenas, often lend a hand while 15-year-old son Juan Cadenas stays home with his 2-month-old sister.
“[Juan’s] working too because he’s taking care of his little sister on Saturdays so I can come and work,” Hernandez said, who earns a living as an employee of Dungeness Court Memory Care in Sequim while pursuing a nursing degree at Peninsula College.
The new home for Hernandez is the third either already begun or in the works for Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County in the last few months, Executive Director Dave Finley said.
It’s the 24th home the agency has built since it incorporated more than two decades ago.
Soon to be the 25th is a new home in the Maloney Heights development in west Port Angeles.
Ground was broken in December for the home for the Commerton family, Finley said, with completion expected in September.
Crews hope to begin work on a home in Forks for the Weaver family in March or April, Finley added, and expect to finish in early 2015.
Hernandez said she expects her new home to be finished by July.
It will have four bedrooms — two in a basement — and two and a half bathrooms, an improvement from the apartment she currently shares with her children in Sequim.
“It’s going to be a very nice home,” Finley said. “We don’t usually do a house with a basement.”
Finley said volunteer labor for Hernandez’s home has come in part from employees of First Federal bank, which also has donated $10,000 to the nonprofit, and personnel from Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles.
Hernandez’s home is the first on which members of the Coast Guard have helped, Finley said, adding that the number volunteering has increased since the project has progressed.
“The word’s spreading, which is a really a positive thing for us,” he said.
Chase Bank donated the property in June, Finley said, and the previously foreclosed house was torn down to its basement so the rebuilding process could begin.
Once finished, Finley said Hernandez will make payments similar to mortgage payments to Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County with zero percent interest.
Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County builds modest affordable housing for qualifying working families currently living in substandard housing.
Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County also has been busy recently, Executive Director Jamie Maciejewski said, with three new homes finished and two more started in 2013.
Volunteers completed the three in Port Townsend last year, Maciejewski said.
Another in Port Townsend in expected to be finished in February, she said, while the organization’s first new home project in Chimacum is slated to be wrapped up by the end of March.
Since 1998, the East Jefferson County organization has built more than 24 homes.
Habitat homes are characterized as “a hand up and not a hand out,” with the new occupants paying a mortgage and assuming all the responsibilities of home ownership.
The no-interest mortgage typically lasts 20 to 30 years. Mortgage payments go into a revolving Fund for Humanity that is used to build more houses.
For more information or to become a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County, phone the Habitat for Humanity office at 360-681-6780.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County, see www.habitatejc.org or phone 360-379-2827.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing editor/news Leah Leach contributed to this report.