Habitat For Humanity seeks lot for fourth home

Published on Wed, Jan 20, 2010 by Tara Nelson

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After three successful home building projects in Blaine, the Whatcom County chapter of Habitat For Humanity is looking to build a fourth.

Speaking at a Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday, assistant director Terry Mattson said he is seeking support from the Blaine and Birch Bay communities as well as an inexpensive lot within Blaine city limits for one of several working families in Whatcom County who otherwise would not be able to afford it.

The organization has built a total of 28 homes in Whatcom County for low-income working families since 1987 – three of which are located in Blaine. The most recent of those is a 1,200-square foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home completed on December 31 and located on Bayview Avenue. The home was constructed for a family of eight: Gilbert and Valerie Minjarez and their six children including Michelle, 5, who is currently being treated at Children’s Hospital in Seattle for leukemia.

Mattson said the home was completed in less than three months, an unusually short amount of time. Part of that success was a result of the strong community support the project received.

“We have seen such a wonderful community effort here in Blaine and Birch Bay,” he said. “Many businesses have donated materials and many volunteers have come to help us complete this house.”

Gilbert, a full-time employee of Bellingham Cold Storage and Valerie, a full-time parent, were unable to afford a home because of high real estate costs and hospital bills.

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, zero-interest mortgage that is usually about 30 percent less than the assessed market value of the house at the time of completion. The money paid back to the organization through the mortgage is then passed on to purchase more property and building materials through a revolving fund.

Mattson also noted that families are required to put 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ or labor into the project and that the Minjarez family put in nearly 650 hours of labor.

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

Donations of cash can be made at any Habitat bank boxes located at businesses throughout the city of Blaine.
Individuals can also volunteer with landscaping on the Bayview Avenue home later this spring.

To donate labor or materials, terry_mateo@hfhwhatcom.org or call 961-2570.