There was a moment, Angela Torres said, when it hit her.
It was her first time sitting outside her new home in Midland at night, and “it was just absolute quiet,” Torres recalled this week.
“I didn’t hear kids yelling or screaming. It was like, ‘Oh my God, we’re actually in here.’”
Days earlier, Torres, her mother and her teenage nephew had received the keys to a brand new home.
Previously, all of them had been sharing a residence with Torres’ niece, who has four children of her own.
It was cramped and crowded, and done out of necessity. Roughly two years earlier, skyrocketing rents had displaced Torres and her family from the 1-bedroom apartment they’d previously shared, so her niece took them all in.
Now, Torres was finally turning the page. Her new home — which she was able to purchase through Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity — came with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and plenty of fulfilled dreams.
It also made Torres the first person to move into a Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity home since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“I’ve worked hard for it,” Torres said of her new home. “This is the one thing I’ve always wanted. I always told myself … I’m going to own a house one day. To me, that was the goal.”
Torres officially got the keys to her new house on Friday, May 15. It was a day she had long been working toward. As part of the deal that made the affordable home purchase possible through Habitat for Humanity, she logged nearly 300 hours of volunteer work on the site.
The labor was the easy part, Torres said.
What was far more difficult, according to the 55-year-old originally from Hawaii, was the last-minute dose of uncertainty and panic that accompanied the coronavirus crisis and the ensuing economic fallout.
Over the last two months, Torres acknowledged there were many times when she feared it would all fall apart.
Torres is employed as a forklift driver at Goodwill but was temporarily laid off. She’s hoping to return to work next month.
When she filed for unemployment, Torres learned her identity had been stolen and someone was attempting to claim her benefits. The fraud significantly delayed Torres from claiming the money that is rightfully hers.
At the 11th hour, the lender that was supposed to finance her mortgage backed out. Thankfully, after a mad scramble, Banner Bank jumped in and came to the rescue.
Then, of course, there was what the state stay-home order might mean for the construction of her home, which was nearing completion when the state shutdown.
“Honestly, I was ready to just give up. There were days when I was overwhelmed,” Torres said. “If not for Habitat, I don’t know what would have happened. I got a lot of support from them. They would not let me give up.”
For Maureen Fife, CEO of Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity, the potential impact of the COVID-19 crisis also was cause for serious concern. The nonprofit had nine families just like Torres’ preparing to move into a new home when the pandemic hit, and what it would mean for them wasn’t entirely clear at first.
Because Habitat for Humanity produces low-income housing, the nonprofit’s work was deemed essential under Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order. But there were significant challenges to navigate when it came to the work typically done by hundreds of volunteers, which froze in mid-March.
The only people left who were allowed to work were Habitat for Humanity’s paid construction site managers, office staff and employees of the nonprofit’s stores, Fife recalled.
Together, they rose to the challenge, collectively making up for more than 1,500 volunteer hours lost in April and May, Fife said — all while adhering to social distancing protocols.
“It definitely turned our cart upside down, so to speak,” Fife said of the coronavirus crisis. “ I could not be more proud of the way the Habitat team has pulled together.”
Fife is hopeful there will be more stories like Torres’ soon.
Every year, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity reviews about 40 applications from prospective homeowners and builds roughly a dozen houses, according to spokesperson Sherrana Kildun. All of them go to residents earning between 30 and 80 percent of area median income, with mortgages no greater than 30 percent of their income.
Torres, meanwhile, is still pinching herself. Along with being a guardian for her nephew, she cares for her mother, who is battling Parkinson’s disease.
The new home, she said, has been a blessing.
“No matter what it took, I wanted to make it happen for my mom. She’s never had a house. She’s going to be 88. Before she dies, I wanted her to know I did everything in my power to have a place to call home, and she doesn’t have to worry,” Torres said.
In Washington, where the housing market remains hot, affordable housing is a constant topic of conversation. A new bill squeaked out just before the end of the 2019 legislative sessions that will help increase affordable housing opportunities.
Senate Bill 5025/1168 will allow for “significant cost savings” on each home built and sold by a nonprofit facilitator for low-income clients by allowing for an exemption on real estate excise tax.
The cost of residential construction is only getting more expensive, and Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent), who sponsored the bill, noted this legislative bill will assist more than 30 nonprofit homeownership facilitators across the state.
“These organizations help Washingtonians end the cycle of generational poverty,” Das said in a written statement. “We have a growing homelessness crisis in our state. And while this bill won’t solve the problem, it will help the hard-working people own their own homes.”
CEO of Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity Maureen Fife said, in response to the passing of the bill: “This is one of the most significant wins for affordable homeownership in the state of Washington in the last 20 years or more. We look forward to putting this legislation to work and making the dream of affordable homeownership a reality for more members of our community.”
They say the hardest part is leaning back over the side of the building. Trusting the ropes. Trusting the reassuring words of your talented guide. From experience, I can confirm that the first step in rappelling down the side of Tacoma’s Hotel Murano was pretty scary.
It can take anywhere from a few minutes to 15 minutes to rappel down one side of Hotel Murano.
But once that part was over, my feet firmly planted against the building and my hands a little more comfortable with controlling the speed of the ropes, the thrill of the descent and the stunning views of the city more than made up for any initial fear.
It took a little over five minutes for me to rappel 245 feet earlier this month during one of the Pacific Northwest’s most extreme fundraising events in recent memory.
The far-off look of someone very happy to be standing on solid ground.
Participants included current Habitat homeowners like Denise Nicole, a local mother who now lives in a Habitat home she herself helped to build.
“I feel like Habitat gives you a hand up,” she said in a statement on the Tacoma organization’s website. “With hard work, and dedication, and teamwork, I have a house. Habitat is a blessing to my life. I am so fortunate I was selected for the program.”
All Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity houses are ENERGY STAR certified and are constructed using a variety of green building practices and features.
Donations for Habitat Challenge are still being accepted here.
Harts Services, a top-rated Tacoma plumbing company with a 4.9 review rating on Google, is giving back to the Tacoma community this Saturday by working on a home for Habitat for Humanity.
The company will begin work in the Tillicum neighborhood at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday. Team members from across Harts Services will join together to help build a new home for the Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity chapter.
“We appreciate everything Tacoma has done for our business, and this is just one of the ways we want to give back to the community,” said Rich Hart, co-owner of Harts Services. “The Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity does great work for underprivileged families, and we are glad to be able to help make a family’s dream of homeownership come true.”
Harts Services is committed to giving back to the Tacoma community, and working on the Habitat for Humanity home is just one way the home services company is doing so. Hart Services also participate in the Adopt a Highway program and has plans to pick up litter along State Route 512.
“Tacoma is a great place to live and work, and we want to do our part to keep it that way,” Hart said. “Investing in one’s community doesn’t always have to be in monetary form. Loving it, beautifying it and helping people who live in it will help Tacoma thrive.”
Tacoma residents looking for more information about Harts Services can call 1-253-345-7222 or visit www.hartsservices.com.
About Harts Services – Harts Services was founded in Tacoma in 2013 by co-owners Rich Hart and Dan Hartsough. Harts Services offers plumbing to residential and commercial customers, and has a 4.9/5 rating on Google. Guided by its motto, We Care More, the company is committed to incorporating a caring attitude into every aspect of the business. For more information, call 1-253-345-7222 or visit www.hartsservices.com.
Tacoma-Pierce County Habitat for Humanity and MultiCare Health System are taking an innovative approach to building affordable housing for low-income families.
MultiCare has decided to donate four single-family houses on property near Tacoma General Hospital to the Tacoma-Pierce County chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a long-time partner of the health organization. The four properties – purchased years ago for the purposes of making room for additional facilities – are deemed no longer valuable, but to Habitat for Humanity the historic homes are significantly valuable to fulfilling its mission of serving low-income families.
Habitat for Humanity is on the fast-track to renovate each of the homes, and put each of them on the market. Proceeds from the sale will support the construction of an 11-single-family home Habitat for Humanity development planned for the Midland area, with construction scheduled for 2019. If all goes as planned, the first renovated property – this one located at 417 S. M St. – will hit the market sometime in May, according to Maureen Fife, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity.
Fife said the nonprofit is incredibly grateful for MultiCare’s gift.
“It will be a gift that launches a neighborhood, and we’re excited about it,” she said.
After a heavy snowfall the night before, a crew of volunteers on Thursday, Feb. 22 helped with the beginning stages of home renovation. Fife said the property at 417 S. M St. is a two-story with four bedrooms and one bath built in 1910. Led by Mike Taggart, Habitat’s site manager, renovations will include taking out a bedroom on the upper level to create a master suite with a private bath. Taggart’s team will also install new plumbing, electrical, new windows, and a new heat-pump system. An open-concept kitchen will be created and the house’s original hardwood floors will be retained.
“We plan to (retain) as much of the original house as we can,” Fife said. “This will be a great uplift for the neighborhood.”
Three people on the volunteer crew on Thursday are MultiCare staff. Tara Bayudan, a post-surgical certified nursing assistant at MultiCare’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, was helping with the removal of ceiling beams and the clearing out of cabinets and debris from the property at 407 S. M St.
“It’s nice giving back to the community,” said Bayudan, who once volunteered for the Red Cross in her home country of the Philippines before joining MultiCare in January 2017. “I used to help my dad at my home in the Philippines. He is a handyman.”
MultiCare has been a supporter of Habitat with volunteers since 2012. Good Samaritan has provided volunteers since 2013. MultiCare and Good Samaritan collectively average three volunteer days per year and roughly 30-35 people annually.
Meanwhile, Steve Crawford, a retired industrial worker, said the opportunity to volunteer for Habitat is a satisfying return to his roots. During high school, Crawford discovered a passion for home construction as a laborer in a framing crew. The opportunity Habitat provides him, he said, is unmatched.
“I love this work. It’s great!” he said. “I love the philosophy behind it.”
After the house at 417 South M Street goes on the market in May, Fife said the other three properties, including one at 1216 South 4th Street and one at 1218 South 4th Street, will soon follow.
Fife said this spring will be an opportune time to enter the housing market with these newly renovated offerings.
“We want to take advantage of when people are really looking,” she said.
The Hotel Murano is one of the tallest buildings in Tacoma. This week, Habitat Humanity is hosting its annual fundraiser, which includes people rappelling off the Murano to raise money to build affordable homes in the South Sound.
Submitted by Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity
How to bring health, wellness and a spirit of togetherness to a neighborhood plagued by crime and drug-dealing that left residents traumatized?
Stubborness, a dream, and a whole lot of help from the community.
More than 150 people ran, jogged, walked and strollered the first-ever Team Tillicum 5K Run Walk Presented by Lowe’s held at Harry Todd Park in Tillicum on Sept. 9, 2017.
The 5K started as a dream for Tillicum residents more than two years ago and then became reality with help from Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity and a grant from Lowe’s.
Turn-around sparked by Tillicum’s Becka Scanlan
It was a dream that would have died if it weren’t for the stubbornness. Becka Scanlan, a proud resident of Habitat for Humanity’s Tillicum housing community, couldn’t understand why her neighbors didn’t talk to each other.
“Everyone was so standoffish,” said Scanlan, who is not one to mince words. “I knew that if we could get to know one another, we could help each other.”
Scanlan got involved with the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association and wound up as the group’s secretary. Tillicum resident and TWNA treasurer Abby Henning took an instant liking to Scanlan and the two hatched a plan for a 5K.
“It wasn’t always easy,” said Scanlan who also is senior pastor at New Beginnings Church in Tillicum. “People were constantly complaining. They would complain about garbage in the streets but wouldn’t do anything about it. They would talk about all the things going wrong but wouldn’t lift a finger to make it better.”
Scanlan wasn’t having it.
“I was sitting in my house one day, my wonderful house, and President Kennedy came to mind. I thought, we should stop asking what our community can do for us and start asking what we can do for our community.”
Scanlan and Henning partnered with Habitat to win a neighborhood revitalization grant from Lowe’s. The pair then helped Habitat leverage the seed money by working with the City of Lakewood and others.
But will they come?
Putting on an event is one thing. Coaxing the neighbors out of their homes was another thing entirely.
Early in 2017, Scanlan started a ‘walk with me’ initiative. Every Saturday morning, rain or shine, she would wait at the Tillicum Youth and Family Center run by Youth for Christ and then start walking the same course she would walk for the 5K event.
“It was great how we would start with two and end up with 10 as we walked,” she said. “Since January I’ve been out there, no matter the weather. I wanted them to know I was serious. That this was serious. That this (walking) was going to be a way of life.”
Scanlan stops suddenly, tears welling up in her eyes.
“As I was out there today…I saw people standing on their doorsteps and waving,” she said, her voice quavering.
“In order for change to take place you have to get involved. Sometimes I sit and I say to God, ‘who am I that I can make a difference?’ He wants us to be a shining light. I’m here to make a difference. To add on to what’s already here. Not to take away.”
What’s next? Just keep walking.
Scanlan is confident there will be a second 5K next year. “We can do more outreach, more things for the community. We have to let people know they don’t have to be scared, that their neighbors are here to help. That they can help others.”
And that they can keep walking. Every other Saturday, Scanlan will walk the 5K route with whoever shows up, making sure that togther their neighborhood is healthy and connected year-round.
TACOMA – After years of prayer and patience, Kennedy Bwanika soon will move his family into the first house they’ve owned.
Their Habitat for Humanity home has special significance. The family — Ugandan refugees who are members of Tacoma’s St. Leo the Great Parish — are buying the home built last year by the 25 parishes of the Archdiocese of Seattle’s Pierce Deanery, in honor of Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“Saints will be watching my house,” Bwanika said.
Bwanika moved to Tacoma in 2009, but couldn’t find affordable housing large enough for his nine-member family, who were still living in Uganda. “I was looking for a house. I have no money,” Bwanika said. “I was looking for someone to help me.”
He found that help at St. Leo’s. Parishioner Pat Coogan, a board member for Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity, and his wife, Patty, befriended Bwanika. They connected him with Habitat and welcomed his wife Mary Namukwaya and their seven children when they finally were able to arrive from Uganda in 2012. (Their eighth child, born in Tacoma, is now 4 years old.)
“A lot of volunteers and staff came together to give a family a stable home,” Coogan said. “I think this is a really good example of, we all do better if we help people out who are at the margins of society.”
Gifts and blessings
Parishioners, neighbors, gifts and blessings welcomed the family to their new home Aug. 13.
Benedictine Father Andrew Schwenke, visiting from Oregon’s Mount Angel Abbey, sprinkled a mix of holy water and salt in every room of the house, praying: “Pour out your blessing on this house and the family that is going to live in this house.”
The family was presented with a log cabin quilt made by parishioners at Immaculate Conception Mission in Steilacoom. Habitat for Humanity provided a basket of gifts with meaning: a Bible representing hope and faith, bread so they’ll always have food, sugar for something sweet in their lives, salt to add a little flavor, a candle for warmth and Play-Doh for fun.
An earlier gift, a bronze dedication plaque purchased by St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Tacoma, has been affixed to the home’s exterior.
Parishioners from St. Leo’s and St. Ann Parish in Tacoma attended the celebration, along with Dan Fannin, a member of Lakewood’s St. John Bosco Parish. Fannin originated the idea of the Pierce Deanery parishes sharing the costs and volunteer hours needed to erect the house.
“We had hoped to get a Catholic family in [the home] that would fully appreciate it was named in honor of Pope Francis,” Fannin said, pleased that Bwanika and his family are purchasing the house.
‘God wanted us to go into this house’
Bwanika started the Habitat application process in 2011, but several potential houses didn’t work out due to size, location or cost. Bwanika said he often asked God, “Have you forgotten me?”
After his family arrived in 2012, they lived with a St. Leo parishioner, later moving into Catholic Community Services housing. As time went on, the four older children went off to college, so the family didn’t need such a large house. But a walkable neighborhood, close to church, stores and public transportation, remained a priority.
When the Pope Francis House at The Woods at Golden Given became an option, Bwanika considered its location, in the Midland area outside Tacoma, less than ideal. He took a few days to think about it, but accepted when he realized this was his last chance for a Habitat house relatively close to Tacoma.
“God wanted us to go into this house,” Bwanika said. “Nothing can happen that is not in God’s plan.”
Meeting the requirements for Habitat home ownership wasn’t easy. Bwanika had to be able to afford the $165,000 mortgage, so he took on a part-time job as a dishwasher to supplement his full-time job as a Goodwill donation attendant. And the family had to be willing to complete 500 hours of “sweat equity” by volunteering for Habitat.
“Kennedy … has made the biggest impact on our volunteers,” said Jason Gauthier, operations director for Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. “He works six to seven days a week, working hard to make a better life for his family. His work ethic, determination and spirit shone through.”
Soon Bwanika and Namukwaya will move into the home with their four younger children, daughters ages 9, 11 and 13; and son, 4.
“This house brings so much warmth to my heart,” said Maureen Fife, Habitat’s local CEO/executive director and a member of Tacoma’s St. Charles Borromeo Parish. “This is a very tangible sign of the Catholic community celebrating together Pope Francis’ message of love, compassion and generosity.”
“This [is] very tangible proof of open hearts and love for your brothers and sisters, and really being the hands and feet of Christ,” Maureen Fife, CEO/executive director of Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity, told those gathered for the Nov. 19 dedication.
“Pope Francis’ Jubilee House” is the work of the 25 parishes and missions of the archdiocese’s Pierce Deanery. Earlier this year, they joined forces and finances to sponsor a house in Habitat’s The Woods at Golden Given neighborhood, located in the Midland area outside Tacoma.
Building a home for someone you don’t yet know is “the kind of love and mercy I think that Pope Francis was urging us to have,” said Fife, a member of Tacoma’s St. Charles Borromeo Parish.
Father Burns led a group prayer at the Pope Francis’ Jubilee House dedication. Photo: Stephen Brashear.
Built on a firm foundation
The dedication ceremony began with Father Jerry Burns, pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Sumner and dean of the Pierce Deanery, reading Matthew 7:24-28 (the parable of the wise man building his house on rock and the foolish man building his house on sand).
“The good news here is that this house is built on a firm foundation,” Father Burns told those gathered.
He then led the group in prayer, thanking God for the generosity of all the parishes that came together in faith to build the house. He asked for the intercession of St. John Paul II for the safety of the family who will live in the home, and to keep their neighborhood free of drugs and violence. “May it be a place of peace where parents can grow and raise their children in God’s ways,” Father Burns prayed. After blessing the front door of the two-story home, Father Burns led the group inside, where he blessed each room.
Although the home is finished, Habitat is still seeking a family to purchase the property.
“We’d love to get a deanery parish family in here,” said Dan Fannin, a member of St. John Bosco Parish in Lakewood, who spearheaded the deanery project. Applicants for the home must meet specific criteria, which include qualifying for a $165,000 mortgage (Habitat provides $40,000 for the down payment), Fannin said.
At the dedication were, from left, Father Michael Radermacher, pastor of All Saints Parish in Puyallup; Jesuit Father Isidro Lépez, chaplain of the Pierce Deanery Hospital Ministry; Father Jerry Burns; and Dan Fannin of St. John Bosco Parish, who spearheaded the project. Photo: Stephen Brashear.
Volunteers of all ages
For their part, the Pierce Deanery parishes and missions are sharing the $65,000 in construction costs for the home (the funds can be raised over three years). They recruited more than 150 volunteers of all ages to help build the home and assist in other ways, such as providing lunch for the work crews. Students from Bellarmine Preparatory School and youth from St. Ann and St. Patrick parishes in Tacoma joined the effort.
The many volunteers included Barney Koenig, 80, a St. John Bosco parishioner who attended the dedication. “I think he’s the oldest volunteer,” Fannin said. “He wears me out. You ought to see him work.”
During the home’s construction, Koenig climbed scaffolding to help install roof sheathing, something he had never done before, a process he deemed “interesting” and “enjoyable.” He also did some painting, but the most difficult job, Koenig said, was working on his knees to clean floor tiles before they were grouted. “Good thing they have knee pads,” he added with a laugh.
The house, started in June, was dedicated just before the Year of Mercy concluded Nov. 20. “So we made it,” Fannin told the gathering. In honor of Pope Francis and the Jubilee Year of Mercy, a bronze plaque (purchased by St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Tacoma) will be attached to the home’s foundation.
This is the first time a group of Catholic parishes has sponsored a Habitat home in Pierce County, Fife said. She gave the credit to Fannin for getting the project rolling: “It was the sparks from Dan that lit the fuse on this whole thing,” Fife said.
Perched on Tacoma’s skyline, I distracted myself from what was behind me by locking my gaze forward.
I felt somewhat calm standing on a ledge atop the Hotel Murano like an Olympic platform diver preparing for a dramatic leap. Then came the instruction from rappel director Aaron Lennox.
“OK, lean back.”
Tentatively, I sat back, putting my trust in two thin ropes. With 24 stories of nothing below me, I felt my right leg quiver nervously. Then, the words of Edgeworks climbing guide Jimmy Grant popped into my head.
“It’s OK to be nervous,” Grant said moments before I took the elevator to the roof. “That’s what keeps you alive.”
On Friday (Sept. 30), from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 75 people will take turns rappelling down the hotel to raise money for Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity.
Participants had to raise at least $1,000 to take part. Elliot Stockstad, director of development for the organization, said $85,000 was raised as of Thursday and fund raising will continue after the event. It’s gone so well, he said, the organization plans to bring back the event next year.
The idea for the Habitat Challenge came earlier this year when Nova Scotia-based Over The Edge contacted Stockstad. Over The Edge stages similar urban rappelling events around the world to help charities raise money.
245 The height in feet of Hotel Murano, Tacoma’s second tallest building. Wells Fargo Plaza is the tallest at 338 feet.
Stockstad said funds raised from Friday’s event will be used to build and repair homes for needy families in Pierce County.
On Thursday, as I received my pre-rappel instruction from Matt Jachowski, he told me the hardest part was dropping over the edge. The rest would be easy.
Getting hurt, he added, would be “impossible,” even though I had just signed a disclaimer that clearly stated death was a possibility.
Jachowski was right. Once I dropped over the edge, I felt like I was sitting on a slightly uncomfortable swing as I walked myself down the side of the building. I looked over each shoulder and took in a view that included Commencement Bay and a large swath of downtown.
Below, I saw a small crowd cheering me on. They seemed concerned I had become stuck or lost my nerve as I dangled for nearly five minutes, waiting for a photographer to make his way from the roof to the courtyard.
The 245-foot descent goes relatively slowly. Most will take five to 15 minutes. The equipment is designed to stop you should you go too fast. And once you get comfortable, there’s no motivation to move quickly.
“Tacoma is really beautiful,” said Krystle Edwards, another of Thursday’s eight participants. “I was looking around and thinking, ‘Wow, I really love Tacoma.’”
Edwards had rappelled only once before on a trip in the Swiss Alps with her Stadium High School classmate, Liz Daley. Daley was a rising star in mountaineering and snowboarding circles before she died in an avalanche in Argentina.
Thursday was the second anniversary of Daley’s death. Edwards was participating as part of an organization called Liz Rocks, which is raising money to build an outdoor rock climbing facility at Point Defiance. The second fund raiser for the project will be Saturday night at the Foss Waterway Seaport, where organizers hope to reach their $150,000 goal. They raised $80,000 last year.
Edwards figures a rappelling event seems like the perfect place to find people interested in a public climbing facility.
Even though most of those descending the Murano don’t have much experience rappelling.
“I’m a little nervous,” Stockstad said. “But it’s a trust thing. I’m excited to do it. And I’m excited to see so many other people do it.”
On Friday, participants get to choose a song that will play in the courtyard below while they descend. Stockstad has narrowed his choice to two: Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” or The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down.”
What’s Your Habitat Story?
Do you have a Habitat experience – a story that will inspire others to join us on the build site or make a gift in support of our mission? Share your good news with us and help ignite the passion for affordable homeownership in others.
Your story can be written or a visual presentation – a photo or series of photos or a video clip. Regardless of the media used, we want to know about your experience and share it with the Habitat community, whether via our social media channels or our blog. Send your story to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
TACOMA, WA (December 13, 2019) – Days after Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat experiencedvandalism and theft, the organization announced that the community has set things right.
The crime happened in the early morning hours of Tuesday, December 11. When staff reported for work, they found the vehicle pen fence cut and extensive damage to their box trucks including stolen batteries and fuses, cut cables, andcompromised fuel tanks.The trucks are part of the Habitat Stores’ operation, and offer free pick-up of donated goods,which stock thecharitable retailer.
The organization shared the news publicly with a press release, and sought community support on social media. Today, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity took to social media to announce they received donations to cover the needed repairs and to enhance the security of the vehicle pen.
CEO Maureen Fife shares, “We received an outpouring of assistance and encouragement in response to the vandalism. Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word. We are especially grateful for the support of Erker’s Auto Repair who immediately got one of our trucks back on the road; to the donors of Greater Tacoma Community Foundation who provided an emergency response grant; and to all the individuals that stepped forward with personal donations. We are honored by the overwhelming community support.”
About Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity A neighborhood builder since 1985, Habitat for Humanity builds homes in Pierce County, partnering with families in need. As active participants in building a better future for themselves and their families, Habitat homebuyers make a minimal down payment and contribute sweat equity in building their home, then pay an affordable mortgage. To learn more, visit tpc-habitat.org.
About Habitat Stores The Habitat Stores (Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup) are home improvement outlets that directly support the construction of affordable homes for families in need though Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program. Manufacturers, stores, contractors and individuals donate new and gently used home improvement items to the Habitat Stores, which are used in Habitat construction projects or sold to the public at a reduced price.
Washington Legislature to Increase Self-help Homeownership Opportunities
TACOMA, WA (April 29, 2019) – Less than 48 hours before the end of the 2019 Washington legislative session, the legislature passed Senate Bill 5025/1168 to assist non-profit, self-help homeownership developers in their fight to increase affordable housing opportunities.
Representative Mari Leavitt (D-University Place), sponsor of the companion bill – HB 1168 – said, “Too many of our low and moderate income households are struggling to afford a home to call their own. For them, it’s a nightmare. It is crucial for self-help ownership developers to have the tools they need to help realize the dream of affordable homeownership”
Growing costs of residential construction challenge non-profit developers to respond to the increasing demand for affordable housing. Senate Bill 5025/1168 allows for a significant cost savings on each homeownership unit produced with an exemption for non-profit self-help homeownership facilitators from the real estate excise tax on each new home that they build and transfer to a low-income client.
Noting that this legislation will assist more than 30 non-profit homeownership facilitators across the state, Senator Mona Das (D-Kent), sponsor of SB 5025 said, “These organizations help Washingtonians end the cycle of generational poverty. We have a growing homelessness crisis in our state. And while this bill won’t solve the whole problem, it will help hard-working people own their own homes.”
The significance of this legislation was not lost on Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity CEO Maureen Fife. Who, when alerted of the passage of this legislation, said “This is one of the most significant wins for affordable homeownership in the state of Washington in the last 20 years or more. We look forward to putting this legislation to work and making the dream of affordable homeownership a reality for more members of our community.”
About Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity A neighborhood builder since 1985, Habitat for Humanity builds and repairs homes in Pierce County, partnering with families in need. As active participants in building a better future for themselves and their families, Habitat homebuyers make a minimal down payment and contribute sweat equity in building their home, then pay an affordable mortgage. To learn more, visit tpc-habitat.org.
About Habitat for Humanity International Driven by the vision that everyone deserves a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity has grown from a grassroots effort that began on a community farm in southern Georgia in 1976 to a global nonprofit housing organization in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in over 70 countries. People partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. To learn more, visit habitat.org.
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity Names New Chief Development Officer
Tacoma, WA, (April 25, 2019) – Sherrana Kildun starts work this week as the new Chief Development Officer for Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. She joins the senior leadership team at the affiliate and will manage a team of 4 experienced development staff.
For over 14 years, Kildun served in various roles at the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, culminating in her most recent position of Director of Donor Services. During her tenure at the Foundation, she designed the Spark Grants and Youth Philanthropy Board programs, worked with families on multi-generational philanthropy, built an ambassador network, educated nonprofits on endowments and planned giving, and developed philanthropic strategies with donors.
Habitat CEO Maureen Fife and her team conducted an extensive search and are excited with their selection in Kildun. Fife says, “I could not be more thrilled to have Sherrana join our team at Habitat for Humanity. Sherrana is well respected in our community and is known for helping donors connect with projects and organizations that align with their passions. At Habitat, she will partner with donors to build stable and safe neighborhoods and keep the dream of entry-level homeownership a reality. We are so fortunate to have her strength, integrity and compassion supporting our mission.”
A native of University Place, Kildun is a graduate of Bellarmine Preparatory High School and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree focused on English and Communications from Western Washington University. She currently lives in North Tacoma with her husband and two children.
Kildun is excited to join the Habitat team, saying “I believe that affordable housing is the most important issue our community is facing right now, and am honored and humbled to join the fantastic team at Habitat. I look forward to inspiring and rallying donors and volunteers to join me in supporting this unique homeownership model for workforce families.”
CDO Sherrana Kildun (left) with CEO Maureen Fife (right)
About Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity
A neighborhood builder since 1985, Habitat for Humanity builds and repairs homes in Pierce County, partnering with families in need. As active participants in building a better future for themselves and their families, Habitat homebuyers make a minimal down payment and contribute sweat equity in building their home, then pay an affordable mortgage. To learn more, visit tpc-habitat.org.
About Habitat for Humanity International
Driven by the vision that everyone deserves a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity has grown from a grassroots effort that began on a community farm in southern Georgia in 1976 to a global nonprofit housing organization in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in over 70 countries. People partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. To learn more, visit habitat.org.
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity, Lowe’s and more than 30 women build with families in Tillicum during National Women Build Week
On Saturday May 12, more than 30 women will join Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity for the largest Women’s Build event in recent years.
Tacoma, WA, (May 7, 2018) – This weekend Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s will host the local expression of the annual National Women Build Week where women volunteers and Habitat homeowners will unite to build up their communities and gain skills in home construction.
National Women Build Week encourages women nationwide to devote at least one day to help build decent and affordable housing in our local communities. Women have the strength and determination necessary to build Habitat houses, addressing the problem of affordable housing in a concrete way so that families can achieve stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable homes.
This year’s event will be held at the New Tillicum North neighborhood of Lakewood, where Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity is constructing seven cottage-style homes. Since 2011, Habitat has built or repaired over 30 homes in Tillicum, bringing new life to this once blighted neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity’s presence in Tillicum has made a difference; the increase in owner-occupied homes has reduced issues of crime in the area, as well as encouraged businesses such as Starbucks to move in. Residents are more actively involved in their community and executed the neighborhood’s first-ever 5K walk and run in September 2017.
“I have been so impressed by Habitat for Humanity and what they’ve done here,” said Lakewood City Council Member John Simpson.
“Since 2002, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity has been uniting strong women volunteers of all experience levels in our community to build homes alongside our hardworking Habitat homeowners,” said CEO Maureen Fife. “We are grateful for Lowe’s partnership through Women Build and are excited to kick off the Women Build season.”
In fact, according to a 2018 national study by Lowe’s and Habitat for Humanity, more than nine-in-10 American women believe providing and advocating for access to affordable housing for women can benefit society. The survey also found:
Nearly all women (98 percent) agree access to affordable housing helps women heads of household thrive.
Having a safe, stable home is a source of pride (96 percent) that makes women feel more confident (98 percent) and independent (97 percent).
Three-in-five (62 percent) women say they cannot afford to purchase a home that meets their family’s needs in the neighborhood where they want to live.
“Lowe’s is proud to sponsor National Women Build Week to educate, inspire and empower women to volunteer alongside other women in their community to address the critical issue of affordable housing. We know women working together are an unstoppable force for creating meaningful change in our communities,” said Colleen B. Penhall, Lowe’s vice president of corporate social responsibility. “At Lowe’s, we believe that a safe, stable home is an important source of strength, pride and security for families. Together with Habitat, our Lowe’s Heroes volunteers and women nationwide, National Women Build Week will provide valuable support to advance accessible housing in the communities where we all live and work.”
Lowe’s and Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity share the vision that every woman, man and child should have a decent place to lay their heads at night. Far too often, low-income families are faced with choosing between paying their housing costs and buying basic necessities like food and medical care to provide for their family. National Women Build Week recruits, educates and inspires women to build, and advocate for decent and affordable houses in their communities alongside their future neighbors—making a difference in their community, one nail at a time.
Lowe’s helped launch National Women Build Week in 2008 and has brought together more than 117,000 all-women construction volunteers to build or repair homes with nearly 5,000 families over the past 10 years. This year, Lowe’s donated $2 million to Habitat for Humanity International to support the 2018 National Women Build Week, and provides how-to clinics at stores to help equip women volunteers for the builds. Since 2003, Lowe’s has committed over $30 million to Habitat for Humanity International and helped more than 6,500 Habitat families improve their living conditions.
Both women and men of all experience levels can participate by signing up to volunteer or by joining the conversation online. As part of National Women Build Week, Lowe’s and Habitat are activating a social movement to generate conversation about building one another up and sharing the message of women empowerment, positivity and action by using #BuildHer and #WomenBuild.
About Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity is one of over 1,300 local affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International in North America. Since 1985, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity has partnered with over 275 families in Pierce County to build and own their own homes. Families who partner with Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity earn between 30% and 80% of the area median income. Each family contributes 200-500 hours of sweat equity and pays for their home with a mortgage set at no more than 30% of their monthly household income. Partner families also attend classes in financial literacy and asset building, and participate in innovative programs such as Habitat Connects, which provides post-purchase support for new homeowners. To learn more, visit tpc-habitat.org.
About Habitat for Humanity International
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in nearly 1,400 communities throughout the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.
About Lowe’s in the Community
Lowe’s, a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company, has a 60-year legacy of supporting the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. In the past decade, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together have contributed nearly $300 million to these efforts, and for more than two decades Lowe’s Heroes volunteers have donated their time to make our communities better places to live. For the latest news, visit Newsroom.Lowes.com or follow @LowesMedia on Twitter.
 The 2018 Lowe’s and Habitat for Humanity National Women Build Week Survey presents the findings of an online survey conducted by Toluna from April 5-8, 2018 among a random sample of 1,019 American women age 18+. The margin of error for a sample of this size is ± 3% at a 95% level of confidence.
MultiCare Health System donated four unused properties in Tacoma’s historic Wedge Neighborhood to Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity as part of a project to return the homes to residential use and fund the construction of a new neighborhood across the city.
The not-for-profit health system purchased the four homes as part of expansion plans for its Tacoma campus that never came to fruition. Habitat for Humanity will renovate the houses this year to prepare them for sale. Proceeds will support construction of a new 11-home Habitat for Humanity development in Tacoma.
“Habitat is honored and grateful to accept the gift of these four houses from MultiCare,” says Maureen Fife, CEO of Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. “Through volunteer labor and creative community collaborations, we will rehab and sell these houses. Net proceeds will support the construction of 11 new affordable homes for our homeownership program. This is truly a gift that will launch a neighborhood. On behalf of our Board of Directors and staff, I want to express my appreciation for our strong partnership with MultiCare. Together we are working toward our vision where everyone in our community has a safe and affordable place to live.”
MultiCare employees will volunteer their time to assist in the renovation work beginning with a group from MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup in late February.
“Habitat is an outstanding organization dedicated to making sure families have affordable and safe housing. Partnering with them on this project supports MultiCare’s mission of creating a healthy future for our community,” says Bill Robertson, President and CEO of MultiCare Health System “This donation will help launch a community, and have a lasting, positive impact on the lives of the families who will live there.”
Construction of the new Habitat for Humanity development is scheduled to begin in 2019.
MultiCare Health System is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 18,000 employees and a comprehensive system of health including numerous primary care, urgent care and specialty services — including Immediate Clinic, MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care and Pulse Heart Institute — MultiCare Medical Associates, Navos Mental Health Solutions, affiliated physicians and a wide range of community outreach programs. Seven hospitals complete our organization: Allenmore Hospital, Auburn Medical Center, Good Samaritan Hospital, Deaconess Hospital, Valley Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital — the region’s only children’s hospital and state-designated Level II Pediatric Trauma Center for Western Washington — and Tacoma General Hospital, which is home to the region’s only Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. MultiCare maintains a close relationship with Habitat for Humanity, frequently providing volunteers for renovation projects as well as sponsoring the 2017 Habitat Challenge.
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity is driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live. Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 1,300 communities throughout the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand-up partner with Habitat to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit tpc-habitat.org.
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity in Washington, DC, to oppose proposed federal cuts that would exacerbate affordable housing crisis in the Tacoma, Lakewood, and greater Pierce County community.
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity joins over 340 Habitat leaders, homeowners and volunteers in Washington, D.C., to encourage members of Congress to support affordable housing.
Tacoma, WA (February 14, 2018) – Representatives of Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity are in Washington, DC, this week, warning that proposed federal cuts will worsen the affordable housing crisis facing Tacoma, Lakewood, the greater Pierce County community and other communities across the United States.
“Too many people in Tacoma and Pierce County are already struggling between making their housing payments and buying food for their family,” said Maureen Fife, CEO of Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity, “We are in Washington, DC, to ask our representatives on Capitol Hill to make greater investments in affordable housing, not less.”
The budget proposed by the White House this week would drastically cut—and in some cases entirely eliminate—funding that communities use to finance the development of new affordable homes. Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity uses funding from the Home Investment Partnerships (HOME), the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Programs (SHOP) in order to make the dream of affordable homeownership a reality for low and moderate-income families across Pierce County. The White House budget proposal would eliminate those funds entirely.
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity joins more than 340 Habitat leaders, volunteers and homeowners from across the country in Washington, DC, this week to advocate for affordable housing. In meetings with Senator Patty Murray, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity is calling on Congress to set aside the flawed budget proposal and instead work to prioritize solutions that will end the affordable housing crisis.
“There is no question that we are in an affordable housing crisis,” said Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford. “More than 18 million families are paying more than half of their paychecks on their housing. Leaders in cities and towns across the country are sounding the alarm, because even middle-class workers like teachers can no longer find housing that fits their budgets. We will make sure those voices are heard in Washington this week as we meet with members of Congress.”
The White House’s proposed budget would also eliminate the AmeriCorps program through the shuttering of the Corporation for National and Community Service. AmeriCorps is a vital component of Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity’s work to partner with more families working toward homeownership. Thousands of AmeriCorps members have served their communities in a variety of ways, including more than 10,000 members working through Habitat for Humanity, where they have helped build homes and rebuild disaster-stricken areas.
About Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity’s vision is to build and foster a community where everyone has a decent, affordable place to live. People in our community, and all over the world, partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. With our help, Habitat homeowners achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build a better life for themselves and their families. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit tpc-habitat.org.
Second Use, Inc. and Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity Partnership Committed to Affordable Housing
Tacoma, WASH. – March 24, 2017
Second Use, Inc. and Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) have joined together in a partnership that is committed to affordable housing, reducing impact on the environment through the use of salvage and thrifting services, and fostering the culture of reusing and recycling.
Anyone can contact Second Use about deconstruction and any salvage can be sold to support Habitat. Consumers can also drop off donations at the Habitat Stores in lieu of consignment. Second Use will retail the salvaged materials, donate half of the sale price to Habitat, and give donors a charitable donation receipt with an itemized list of their donations.
Habitat and Second Use are working together to increase understanding of salvage and thrifting at both Second Use stores and Habitat Stores, and have a shared goal of benefitting the Pierce County community as a whole. Currently, the donated materials received by Second Use equate to an average of about $1,500 in monetary donations to Habitat each month.
ABOUT THE HABITAT STORES
The Habitat Stores are your one-stop home improvement shop open to the entire community, not just Habitat homeowners. By selling new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more to the public at a fraction of the retail price, proceeds are used to build more affordable housing in communities. The Tacoma/Pierce County affiliate is currently supported by three Habitat Stores located in Tacoma, Puyallup, and Lakewood. Everyone from homeowners, renters, contractors, property owners, and DIY-ers can find great discounts for their projects while benefitting Habitat’s mission. The stores also offer free donation pickup for anyone that needs assistance.
ABOUT TACOMA/PIERCE COUNTY HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity’s vision is to build and foster a community where everyone has a decent, affordable place to live. People in our community and all over the world partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. With our help, Habitat homeowners achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build a better life for themselves and their families.
ABOUT SECOND USE, INC.
As environmental and economic forces continue to impress upon our society the benefits of reducing waste, Second Use envisions salvage and reuse of building materials as an increasingly user-friendly process and a standard component of a construction job. We envision building our capabilities in professional salvage and deconstruction services, and we aim to provide an enjoyable shopping experience for customers. We will do this together with contractors, homeowners, customers and community in the Puget Sound region – those who have been our partners from the beginning. If you elect to donate your materials, they will be sold to benefit local Habitat for Humanity affiliates so they can build more homes for the people that really need them. Last year, Second Use diverted over 10,000 items from the landfill on behalf of Habitat for Humanity and has donated over $2,000,000 since 1997.
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity CEO Accepted into International U.S. Council
TACOMA – July 19, 2016
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity CEO, Maureen Fife, has been accepted as an affiliate representative for the U.S. Council for Habitat for Humanity International and will continue as a member of the U.S. Council Advocacy Committee.
The U.S. Council of Habitat for Humanity International was established by the board of directors to serve as the planning and policy recommending body to guide the growth of Habitat for Humanity’s work in the United States.
One of the six U.S. Council committee charters, the Advocacy Committee works to influence public opinion and decision-makers in all sectors to adopt policies and practices and transform systems that lead to the creation and preservation of housing for all, toward the goal of ending poverty worldwide.
“The committee has helped to define Habitat’s first legislative agenda that will be out for review soon to all affiliates to help affiliates find their voice in advocacy to further our mission for affordable housing” said Maureen Fife, CEO of Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. “Habitat as a provider of affordable homeownership opportunities has gone through significant changes in the past 10 years and that doesn’t look to be any different as we move into the next 10 years. There will continue to be changes to our work and our model. Being part of having to navigate those waters is something I look forward to.”
About Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity
With God’s grace and the cooperation of people from all walks of life, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity partners with families in need to build and own simple, decent, affordable homes in safe communities. Founded in 1985, Tacoma/Pierce County has built 230 homes in partnership with low income families in need. As a result over 1,000 people now have a simple, decent and affordable place to call home. Habitat is truly “A hand up, not a hand out.” Homes are sold to partner families at no profit and with a 0% interest loan. Habitat families must also commit to working up to 500 “sweat equity” hours on construction of Habitat homes or on other Habitat projects. Each year, over 3,000 volunteers work with Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat. Volunteers drive down the cost of construction, making Habitat one of the most affordable housing programs not just in Pierce County, but in the world.
About Habitat for Humanity International
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity has grown from a grassroots effort that began on a community farm in southern Georgia in 1976 to a global nonprofit housing organization in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in over 70 countries. People partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.