Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County works on building a house in Forks. Habitat has announced it will be taking a two-year hiatus from serving Forks and focusing on a neighborhood revitalization program. (Habitat for Humanity)

Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County works on building a house in Forks. Habitat has announced it will be taking a two-year hiatus from serving Forks and focusing on a neighborhood revitalization program. (Habitat for Humanity)

Habitat for Humanity to take a break in Forks

“We feel like we need a two-year break to get really good at our processes and to be able to support that work,” the executive director said.

FORKS — Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County will take a two-year break from the Forks community and sell the six remaining lots in its Forks subdivision.

Cyndi Hueth, executive director of Habitat, said the agency is taking a break because of a lack of local support for Habitat, making it difficult to build new homes.

“Fundraising has been a bit of a challenge in the Forks community,” Hueth said.

“We have some support, but to build a new house is definitely challenging.”

Since 2009, Habitat has built three houses in Forks, with the most recent being finished earlier this month.

Habitat’s board decided last year to finish the most recent build, then assess if it was feasible to continue building in Forks.

“We had a few people who were very committed,” Hueth said. “But we can’t build a house with a couple few people.”

Forks Mayor Bryon Monohon said he is thankful for the organization’s continued work in the community.

“I’m not surprised they would take a little bit of a break,” he said. “They’ve turned out two houses in the year and a half. They’ve done a lot of work.”

Rod Fleck, Forks city attorney and planner, said it’s been great having Habitat in Forks.

He had heard for a few months that Habitat might be changing direction and taking a break from Forks.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have Habitat here,” he said. “It’s been very cool to see and we’ll look forward to learning more about what they’ll be doing in the future.”

Fleck said he and his kids have volunteered at two of the Habitat builds in Forks and called the projects great sources of community pride.

Habitat will sell the six remaining lots in its Forks subdivision and switch gears toward rehabilitating homes, instead of building new ones.

The plan is for Habitat to develop its Neighborhood Revitalization program in Sequim and Port Angeles before bringing it in to Forks.

The two-year hiatus will help Habitat bring to Forks a well-developed program that will help the community, Hueth said.

“We feel like we need a two-year break to get really good at our processes and to be able to support that work,” she said.

“We still need people from the community to come out and do the repair work with us.

“It’s a different approach to Habitat. Most people associate us with building new homes.”

That type of program is more than welcome in Forks, Monohon said.

Not only is there a need for new houses, there is a need to rehabilitate older houses, he said.

“When you get as much rain as we do, mold is always an issue,” he said.

“We have more people needing quality housing than we have housing stock for.”

At one point, starting in the late 1990s, Forks went about a decade without any new homes constructed, he said.

“We’ve made some strides over the last 10 years,” he said. “Everyone deserves a nice place to live.”

Habitat became a Neighborhood Revitalization Affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International in the fall of 2015.

Neighborhood Revitalization is a holistic approach to revitalizing neighborhoods into vibrant, safe and inviting places to live for current and future residents, Hueth said.

The affiliate has launched its Neighborhood Revitalization work in the cities of Sequim and Port Angeles.

“With the older housing stock throughout Clallam County, there is definitely a need for repairing and preserving those homes, particularly in partnership with senior citizens and lower-income households who may need a ‘hand up’ with repairs” she said.

Hueth said she suspects it was difficult to get the volunteers needed because Forks is a small community and people are involved in many organizations already.

With weather limiting the times when they can build, it was hard to draw from a smaller pool of volunteers, she said.

“It’s just a smaller community in comparison to Sequim or Port Angeles,” she said.

With only three full-time and one part-time employees for the affiliate, excluding employees at the Habitat for Humanity Store of Clallam County in Port Angeles, Hueth said it would be better to focus on Port Angeles and Sequim for now.

“We run pretty lean,” she said. “We just need to stay focused.”

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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