A home, a yard comes to family in need

The dream of owning a piece of land on Whidbey Island may seem out of reach for low-income families living on the island in the midst of the booming housing market, but there is help.

An effort by the Goosefoot Community Fund, coupled with a county grant, will give one low-income South Whidbey family a place to call home.

On Monday, the Island County Board of Commissioners approved a $40,000 grant to the non-profit Goosefoot Community Fund. The grant money will be used to purchase land, on which Goosefoot will relocate a home for a low-income family. Debbie Torget, who manages the organization’s affordable housing program, said a Langley family, which presently lives in a rental, has been selected for the home. Torget declined to name the family because the final details of the land purchase are still being negotiated.

The money granted for the land purchase comes out of the Island County Low Income Housing Surcharge Fund. Money for the fund is collected through a special $10 fee the county auditor charges for recording real estate documents.

Goosefoot, which has been moving donated homes and financing their renovation for low-income families for several years, won a grant from the fund this year. With it, Goosefoot will for, the first time, be able to donate both a house and land to a family. In the past, the family must have provided the land.

Goosefoot’s Torget said being able to buy land is valuable in the present real estate market.

“There is very little land available in the local area,” she said. “We are extremely happy that they made this funding vehicle available.”

To qualify to receive the benefits of the grant, the family selected to receive land from Goosefoot can earn no more than 40 percent of the county’s median income. That median is $72,000. For example, a family of four cannot earn more than $31,160 in trying to qualify.

Goosefoot has provided eight families with homes during the last five years, and plans to put three more families in homes this year.

The low-income surcharge fund originated several years ago. At the time, the legislature passed a $10 fee to fund the grant intended for low-income housing throughout the state, said Steve Gulliford, executive director of the Island County Housing Authority. Gulliford assists the Island County Affordable Housing Board, which was appointed by the county commissioners to select the recipient of grants from the fund.

Both the housing authority and Habitat for Humanity have been past recipients of the twice-yearly award.

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