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Habitat for Humanity to build 50 homes on Ridge

SNOQUALMIE _ Low-income families will soon be able to

own homes on Snoqualmie Ridge.

Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company, the city of Snoqualmie and

Habitat for Humanity have joined to build 50 houses for families who would

otherwise not be able to live in the Valley.

Snoqualmie Mayor Randy "Fuzzy" Fletcher said he and

council members got involved with Habitat because they wanted the city to

have housing options for people in all income brackets. Currently, homes

in the Snoqualmie Ridge community cost anywhere from $150,000 to

$1 million. Weyerhaeuser donated 10-plus prime acres of land as part of

an agreement to provide low-income housing in the master-planned

community.

"We've watched housing prices skyrocket in the Valley and were

concerned about where ordinary folks were going to live," Fletcher

said. "Now [there will be] 50 homes that are really affordable for people in

the area who are making a regular income."

The reason these houses are affordable is because Habitat sells

the homes at cost and then leases the land to the homeowner.

Habitat, a Christian housing organization that builds homes with

volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, sells the houses to

qualified families at no profit. Each home costs an average of $42,250 and is

financed with a no-interest loan. Mortgage payments average $600 and

go into a revolving fund used to build more houses.

Groundbreaking at the Ridge was held early last month and the

project is in the beginning phase where crews are grading and constructing

the streets.

A community center should be started this fall and will serve as a

command post for the development. According to Jean Ann French,

director of resources for Habitat, the foundations will be laid next spring and

20 houses will be built over a three-week period next summer. The remaining

30 will be built at a slower pace and all homes will comply with Ridge

design standards.

Volunteers will be enlisted to help with construction, and French is

seeking a "sticks and bricks" building

supplies sponsorship for each home. Buck and Gordon, a Seattle-based law

firm, has already committed to a $60,000 sponsorship.

"I'm amazed at the participation on the individual level, [people]

who ask to be involved," French said.

"Not only do they give us their cash dollars, but they bring us their time

and their talent."

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is also donating something to the project

— free electrical and gas hookups. PSE Community Relations

Manager Denny Lensegrav heard about the Humanity development and

wanted his company to get involved, so he met with city officials to find out

what could be done.

"The focus was what we could do for the project, not what it could

do for us," he said. "We are very happy to be involved."

With free energy hookups, volunteers, supplies and a low price,

these houses now need residents.

Homeowners are chosen on the basis of need, the ability to pay (a

family of four would have to make less than $32,900) and willingness to

partner with Habitat.

Family members must complete 500 hours of "sweat equity" by

working on other Habitat projects or doing office work. In order to qualify,

applicants must have lived or worked in the Snoqualmie Valley — Preston,

Duvall, Carnation, Fall City, North Bend and Snoqualmie — for one year. Five

of the homes will be built to accomodate a disabled family member.

French pointed out that the homes are a hand-up, not a handout;

but sometimes the perception of Habitat homeowners is wrong.

"These deserving families are people that we come into contact

with every day," she said. "These are

the people who work the foundation jobs of our city — office staff, retail

store managers — these are nice people doing good work, but the jobs

aren't paying enough. Not everyone earns $100,000 a year, yet they should

be allowed to live in our city," French added.

This will be one of the largest Habitat projects in the world

because of the amount of land donated and number of houses built.

Weyerhaeuser has worked with Habitat many times and has donated more than $1

million in cash and building materials in the last decade, as well as provided

volunteers.

"It's a fantastic project," said Weyerhaeuser spokesperson

Frank Mendizabal. "From our perspective, its a win, win, win situation; for

the people who will live there, for the community to provide

affordable housing, and for the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company to continue

its participation with Habitat for Humanity."

Anyone interested in applying for one of the homes must attend one

of three meetings. Two will be held at Mount Si High in Snoqualmie, one

at 7 p.m. on May 16 and the other at 9 a.m. on May 20. The third meeting

will be held at Tolt Middle School in Carnation at 2 p.m. on May 21.

For more information, call (425) 869-6007, Ext. 238.

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