It was Alli Gann’s childhood goal to move to Whidbey Island. But about a month after her family actually did so, it started to seem like maybe the dream wouldn’t come true.
“About a month into it, I really started stressing,” said her husband Andrew Gann.
However, the family’s luck eventually started to turn. Habitat for Humanity of Island County recently broke ground on what will be the Ganns’ new home just south of Coupeville.
Alli, Andrew and their son Mathias had been living in a small North Whidbey apartment since 2017, said Andrew Gann. It took him three or four months before he found the job he has now at the Coupeville Post Office. A couple months into living on the island, Alli Gann gave birth to their second son, Malachi.
Her grandma lives in Coupeville, and Alli Gann said she spent almost every summer there as a child. She was struck by the area’s beauty and sense of community.
“The way the community comes together for events,” Alli Gann said, “I’m from California and that doesn’t happen down there.”
The family’s new home will be in the Bon Air community just south of Coupeville; construction is expected to begin at the end of August, according to Orin Kolaitis, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Island County. The Ganns will work alongside other volunteers to help build the home, and they will also volunteer their time toward other Habitat projects to put in the “sweat equity” required by the nonprofit.
“It will be nice to have a hand in building this house that’s going to be our forever home,” said Andrew Gann.
After it’s complete, the Ganns will pay for it through an affordable mortgage. The property, like all Habitat properties, goes into a land trust with resale restrictions to ensure it stays affordable permanently, Kolaitis said.
The nonprofit builds about four houses a year and has a home repair program for low-income homeowners. Applicants for Habitat for Humanity homes are chosen based on a need for housing, ability to pay house payments and willingness to work with the organization, according to the website.
The apartment the Ganns had been living in had mold problems and was rundown, Andrew Gann said, but it was the only one they could afford.
“Everything is so expensive here,” he said.
Kolaitis acknowledges the need is greater than the nonprofit can provide for, but he said there are plans to do more projects on the South End of the island.
“The need is definitely there for us to do more,” he said.
There are projects slated for the Holmes Harbor area and in Langley.
For the Ganns, the Habitat project comes as a “big relief,” Andrew Gann said. The couple is glad to be out of the “concrete jungle” of Stockton, Calif. to somewhere with a safe street for their kids to ride their bikes, a yard and good schools, he said.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to get to live on Whidbey Island and in Coupeville,” Alli Gann said.
“And it’s happening. It’s so surreal.”