Habitat begins work on six homes

Development to be permanently affordable housing

PORT TOWNSEND — Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County will host a public ceremonial groundbreaking on Wednesday for six permanently affordable homes.

The development at Landes and 18th streets in Port Townsend, intended to eventually consist of 20 homes, is its first multi-family housing development.

Expected at the ceremony, which will be from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., are state Rep. Steve Tharinger and other local public officials, members of Habitat Washington State, and Habitat of East Jefferson County (EJC) volunteers, donors, partners, homeowners, board members and staff.

The Landes Street homes, located at the southwest corner of 18th Street and across from Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park, will be permanently affordable, meaning that even if the original homeowner sells the home, a new buyer will be able to purchase the home at an affordable rate.

“We are thrilled to welcome our community to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Landes and 18th Street development,” said Jamie Maciejewski, executive director of Habitat EJC.

“These homes will provide people in our community who can’t afford market-rate housing prices a safe and decent place to live. Now is the time to be part of the solution to the affordable housing challenges many individuals and families in our region experience.”

The groundbreaking ceremony will celebrate the beginning of infrastructure preparation for the six homes at Landes and 18th streets.

The entire property is split into two plots: a 1-acre plot for 14 houses and a half-acre plot for six houses.

The parcel at Landes and 18th will be developed with three paired homes, which is six total homes. The parcel at Landes and 16th may hold up to 14 homes, although the exact number has yet to be officially approved, Habitat personnel said, adding that the vision is to build multi-family housing similar to what is being constructed at Landes and 18th.

Under a Habitat housing trust, Habitat will own the land in perpetuity and lease it to homeowners. Each homeowner has full and exclusive use of the land for 99 years, with the option to renew for another 99 years. The lease is inheritable and can be passed on to future generations.

Each lease agreement will specify a limited appreciation rate for the home so if a homeowner decides to sell in the future, the home remains affordable for the next buyer. The homeowner still will recognize appreciation in the value of the home, just not at the very rapid appreciation rates that have been seen recently, according to Habitat personnel.

Designed by Terrapin Architecture, the housing will be a set of three “paired homes,” for a total of six new homes.

The paired-home style is similar to a duplex with the exception that each home will have its own wall, rather than sharing one central wall.

This design feature allows for a small space between the two walls to provide insulation and greater noise reduction, according to a Habitat EJC press release, which added that the construction plans minimize waste, while adhering to Energy Star and state energy consumption standards.

The cost for purchasing two parcels and preparing the infrastructure at the Landes and 18th parcel was about $1 million. Funding was secured, thanks to several donors who wish to remain anonymous, Habitat personnel said.

While fundraising for the two parcels of land and excavation at Landes and 18th has been completed, Habitat continues to seek funding for infrastructure at Landes and 16th streets.

This neighborhood will be able to support people working in the service industry and other lower-paying careers, Maciejewski has said.

People getting housing through Habitat pay what they can afford for mortgages, which are not to exceed 30 percent of their income.

Owners also assist in the building process, Maciejewski said.

Sometimes, owners are unable to help build their homes. The organization adapts and makes other plans on a case-by-case basis, she said.

Since the groundbreaking is at a construction site, parking is not available. All attendees are encouraged to park at the Park and Ride and walk the short distance to the event.

Those who need special access accommodations are urged to contact Habitat EJC at [email protected]

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].

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