Habitat seeks to finish home for the holidays

Published on Tue, Nov 24, 2009 by Tara Nelson

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As the holiday season approaches, the Whatcom County chapter of Habitat For Humanity is seeking to finish their latest Blaine home.

Associate director Terry Mattson said the organization is seeking help with the completion of their third Blaine project so that the family will be able to move in before Christmas.

The home, located in Blaine on Bayview Avenue, is being constructed for a family of three – Gilbert and Valerie Mijarez and their daughter Michelle who is currently being taken care of at Children’s Hospital in Seattle for lukemia. Michelle will be five years old on December 7.

“We want to surprise the family by getting them into their new home by Christmas,” Mattson said. “We want to give the little girl something to be happy for.”

Gilbert is a full-time employee of Bellingham Cold Storage and Valerie is a full-time parent but because of high real estate costs and hospital bills, the family was not able to afford a home at the market rate.
Mattson said Habitat For Humanity is able to offer homes to families at a below-market rate through volunteer labor and donations.

The organization then offers qualifying families a 30-year mortgage that is usually about 30 percent less than the assessed market value of the house at the time of completion.

“It’s important that people realize that these houses aren’t just given away,” he said.

The family is also required to put 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ or labor into the project and pay back the 30-year mortgage back to Habitat For Humanity. The money is then passed on to purchase more property and building materials through a revolving fund.

“It’s also important that people realize this is a revolving fund so that money is reinvested into the community into other Habitat houses,” he said. “As we get it back, we’ll send it back out again into the community.”

In the meantime, Mattson said the organization is looking for donations of labor, cash or materials such as paint, interior doors, floor covering, kitchen counter tops, lumber and steps for
porches.

Donations of cash can be made at any Habitat banks at businesses throughout the city of Blaine. To donate labor or materials, terry_mateo@hfhwhatcom.org or call 961-2570