PORT TOWNSEND — Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County is developing land for an eventual 20-house affordable-housing neighborhood.
Property on Landes Street between 15th and 18th streets in Port Townsend has been purchased. The next step is to add infrastructure, said Jamie Maciejewski, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County.
Maciejewski and her team are working on the engineering planning for the property and getting the permitting that is required to add infrastructure for water and electrical service as well as such other work as adding a road, sidewalks and stormwater drains.
The plan is to aim for building about six houses on the property each year starting in 2022. At that rate, the neighborhood will take about four years to complete, Maciejewski said.
The property is split into two plots: a 1-acre plot for 14 houses and a half-acre plot for six houses, Maciejewski said.
The cost of getting the property ready to build houses is estimated to be about $1 million. Habitat has raised about $630,000 through individual donations and grants, such as a recent one from Jefferson County for $27,000 from the affordable housing tax fund.
Affordable housing in Port Townsend and Jefferson County is a well-known issue, Maciejewski said. Available housing is very limited.
This neighborhood will be able to support people working in the service industry and other lower-paying careers, she said.
“They’re targeted to people in this community who can’t afford the housing prices that are here,” Maciejewski said. “That means people who are in retail service, hospitality services, health care support, caregivers … the people who really keep this community going.
“People who get into Habitat houses look a lot like the people in this community. We are really interested in addressing the affordable-housing issues … and in a deeper way than we have been able to do so far,” she continued.
“We intend to keep building, because there is a need for more than 20 homes, and we’re investigating more options on what we are able to do. Our board is committed to doubling the number homes we build per year over the next five years.”
Habitat is averaging about four houses a year right now due to the pandemic, but the hope is to increase that to eight over the next five years, she said.
People getting housing through Habitat pay what they can afford for mortgages, which are not to exceed 30 percent of their income. Costs have averaged between $700 and $1,100 a month.
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.
The homes will permanently stay at the 30 percent mortgage threshold, even if the original family moves.
This will be the first Habitat neighborhood in East Jefferson County that will have multi-family homes such as duplexes, Maciejewski said.
Homebuyers through Habitat are not required to have children or more than one adult, she said.
Applications for new homeowners will open in mid-March. Those interested are encouraged to contact the organization at 360-379-2827.
Those who wish to donate to the organization can go to https://www.habitatejc.org/give.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]