Habitat for Humanity of Island County introduces preservation program

Amid the houses built with the help of Habitat for Humanity, work is under way to help current homeowners struggling to maintain their home.

Habitat for Humanity of Island County is developing a program to make exterior repairs to homes owned by people who can’t tend to their abodes’ upkeep.

“The intent is to try to help people do exterior repairs to their homes to keep them livable,” said Calvin Hewitt, executive director. He said the program has completed three projects so far, but a lot of work remains concerning the configuration of the program.

Officials are still working out details about how the Home Preservation Program will work. Such details include how it’s going to be funded, how an applicant will be involved and how much “sweat equity” a person would have to provide. Hewitt said the support could be anything from helping with repairs to providing a welcoming environment for volunteers and serving them coffee.

The eligibility requirements to participate in the upkeep program will be similar to Habitat’s house program, which includes demonstrating a need, residency of Island County and an income that is 25 percent to 50 percent of the median income of Island County.

Although organizers are hashing out the details, volunteers have already completed a ramp replacement and a deck replacement. They are scheduled to replace another handicap ramp later in October.

The charitable Habitat for Humanity home improvement program is at least the third one operating on Whidbey Island.

Hearts and Hammers on South Whidbey and Central Whidbey hold a project day each May. During that time, scores of volunteers descend upon homes on Central and South Whidbey Island to make repairs in one day. Until Habitat’s program started, there wasn’t a similar program operating on North Whidbey Island.

Hewitt said he’s talked to people from both Hearts and Hammers groups. He said Habitat’s program isn’t intended to compete with the two groups. However, Habitat may be able to step in during an extensive project or should a need arise at other times of the year.

Habitat for Humanity is still building houses in the area. Volunteers and owners have built 32 houses since 1999 and 10 houses have been constructed since 2010. The organization currently has a home being built in the Frostad Pond development near Oak Harbor.

When a person is selected for a house, he or she has to contribute 500 hours during the home’s construction.

For information about Habitat for Humanity, call 360-679-9444.

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