In its largest project to date, Habitat for Humanity of Island County is planning to build 10 multi-family housing units on two Third Street properties near St. Hubert Catholic Church in Langley.
Habitat for Humanity hopes to close on the purchase in January 2017. Brett D’Antonio, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Island County, said the development and design process is still in very early stages and that he expects more detailed information will be available to the public sometime during the middle of 2017.
With less availability of affordable housing in Island County, Habitat for Humanity is taking steps to increase the reach of its program, D’Antonio said, which includes increasing the number of homes built per year. The purchase of the properties is the first step in that process.
Habitat for Humanity, an international non-profit organization with offices in Freeland and Oak Harbor, builds and sells affordable homes to low and middle income families in Island County. For this project, it’s partnering with Saratoga Community Housing, a community land trust, to ensure future homes remain affordable in perpetuity, D’Antonio said.
“We’re excited about it,” D’Antonio said. “Langley is a place we haven’t built yet. It is ideal for us because it has sewers.”
Ten homes is around three times more than what Habitat for Humanity typically builds and sells in a given year. The asking price for the two properties is $450,000.
“The owner of this property was able to give us a deal that was fair to both parties,” D’Antonio said.
The first property located at 831 Third Street is partially developed and includes an L-shaped driveway with two parking areas. The second, located on 843 Third Street, is mostly undeveloped farmland and has some small existing structures on it. D’Antonio said the plan is to develop the second property in a similar fashion as the first lot.
“We are thankful for the ongoing support that we receive from the community which has made it possible for us to take on a project of this size,” D’Antonio said.
Melissa McSwain, program director for Habitat for Humanity, said multi-family homes could be a major focus for the nonprofit organization moving forward.
“We see multi-family homes as being the best way to serve families,” McSwain said.
Joanne Pelant of the Island County Housing Support Center said Habitat for Humanity’s project comes at a much needed time. She said the price of rent is increasing in Island County and more and more leases are being terminated, forcing people to live out of their cars or other less than desirable living situations. Without offsetting the problem with additional housing, there is no end in sight.
“We’ll just continue to see more of that,” Pelant said.
D’Antonio said the sale prices for Habitat for Humanity are sometimes half the open market value. That’s good for qualifying South Whidbey families as houses on the South End are more expensive on average than up north. According to a November newsletter report by Clay Miller, a realtor with Windemere, the median house sale price on South Whidbey is $377,000. By comparison, it is $285,000 on North Whidbey.
“We’re certainly excited about it,” Pelant said. “There’s no question: If we can add affordable housing units in our community, it’s moving us forward.”