PORT TOWNSEND — Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County has completed the purchase of a 17-acre parcel of land for permanently affordable, mixed-income, workforce housing.
The $1.24 million purchase of the property — which is located behind the Jefferson County Library and adjacent to the Chimacum Primary School in Port Hadlock — was aided by a Jefferson County investment of $500,000 in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The rest was provided by private donors, said Habitat Executive Director Jamie Maciejewski, on Thursday, after the milestone was announced this week.
As a matter of fact, private donors have pledged $4.4 million so far, a feat Maciejewski largely credits to the efforts of the Jefferson Community Foundation, which is a partner with Habitat in raising money for the project.
The donations will go along way to fully funding the roads, plumbing, electricity, water and other infrastructure needed for the development of 120 or more units.
“We estimate it will cost $5 million altogether to purchase the property and develop the infrastructure,” Maciejewski said, adding that “$4.4 million is very far along so that’s very exciting.”
Nevertheless, it is likely to be five years before homes begin to be built.
Nothing more can be done until the county’s Port Hadlock Sewer Project is in place.
“The county thinks the sewer will be available three years from now,” Maciejewski said. “Then we be able to work on permits.”
The idea behind the development is to provide affordable housing that stays affordable no matter who owns it.
The land would be owned and stewarded by Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County. Homeowners would pay less for mortgages in return for reduced appreciation on their property. That way, homes could be resold without a huge jump in price.
Rents also would be kept under control this way.
Habitat expects to build a quarter to a third of the homes, targeting people living below 80 percent of the area median income. For a four-person household in Jefferson County, that is $63,700 or less. For one person, it is $44,600 or less.
She envisions those homes as housing people who work in service industries such as tourism, caretakers, paraedcators — all thee kinds of positions that make our county go.”
The homes would have to be sold to people in similar circumstances, she said.
The rest would be build by private developers and would be affordable for those making 80 to 120 percent of the median income such as teachers, nurses, first responders, mill workers — “people who work in this community and can’t afford to live here.”
The area’s median income is $73,900 for family of four, Maciejewski said.
“That sounds like a reasonable income, but it is not reasonable if you can’t afford to live here,” she said.
By agreeing to limit their equity, people would “pay it forward,” she said.
The idea originated with local people who approached Maciejewski with Habitat and Siobhan Canty, CEO of the Jefferson Community Foundation, saying “this property is on the market and we think I would be great if you could do this,” Maciejewski said.
“We went ahead and approached the sellers and were able to put property under contract while we studied it,” getting permission for the national organization and approval by the local board of directors.
“It’s a really wonderful location, right by the primary school, the library and buses,” she said.
The next steps will be conversations with community groups this summer to help determine how to develop the property, Maciejewski said, followed by development of a maser plan over the next year,
For more about the project, see https://www.habitatejc.org/#mason.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.