Habitat of Clallam County to open homes for veterans

Ribbon cutting for four-unit project set for May 28

PORT ANGELES — Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County will host a ribbon cutting for its first veterans’ housing project later this month, one of several the organization has in the works.

Chief Executive Officer Colleen Robinson told the Port Angeles Noon Rotary Club on Wednesday that the four-unit project on Fairmount Avenue is a long time coming.

“It’s our affiliate’s first veteran build, but Habitat International has a really robust veteran support program, so we’re getting lots of help,” Robinson said.

The project, known as the Ketchum Veterans Cottages, will have a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. May 28 at 1133 Hazel St. in Port Angeles.

The Clallam County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1991 and has built 38 homes and completed more than 50 home repair projects. In addition to the veterans cottages, Habitat’s current Port Angeles projects include a single-family home on Hazel Street, a possible duplex unit on Eighth Street, and it has bought and cleared a lot at Fairmount and Hazel it hopes to build on.

But the group’s biggest project is going on in Sequim, where Habitat is hoping to build at least 50 units of housing on a 5-acre lot on Sequim Avenue and Brownfield Road.

The project, known as the Brownfield Road project, had a groundbreaking ceremony last summer, but Habitat is still trying to get enough money together to begin preparation work at the site.

“We’re thinking that development, dirt work, before we put a shovel in the ground to build a house, we’re going to need about $5 million,” Robinson said.

Habitat already has about $3 million for the project and is hoping to hear back from the office of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, about a $1.2 million grant in the near future.

“If we get the Maria Cantwell money, we should be good,” Robinson said. “If not, then we’ll just have to do a capital campaign where we go to the community for that funding.”

The office of U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, requested $2 million for the project but was only able to secure $800,000. Clallam County provided $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding and Habitat partnered with the city of Sequim to secure a state Connecting Housing to Infrastructure Program grant of $2 million.

In 2022, philanthropist Mackenzie Scott donated $1 million to Habitat of Clallam County, part of a $436 million donation to Habitat for Humanity International. The other Washington communities to receive funding from the donation were Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, Robinson said, making Habitat of Clallam County the smallest and most rural affiliate to receive funding in the state.

The Brownfield Road project aims for 10 four-plex units and five duplex units, but it has been having trouble securing the necessary permits from the city of Sequim. Robinson said the organization has been in “permitting purgatory” in both Sequim and Port Angeles but is making progress with both.

In Clallam County, Habitat serves people earning between 30 percent and 80 percent of area median income (AMI), but Robinson said most make between 60 percent and 80 percent of AMI. In the Seattle area, Habitat typically serves people earning between 100 percent and 120 percent of AMI, Robinson said.

Habitat homes are built for people who can’t afford homes at market value. They must apply for the program and meet certain requirements.

But after 20 years, Habitat homes can be sold on the open market, and while Habitat has the first right to purchase the home, it must buy at fair market value.

Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County has adopted a model similar to a community land trust which puts deed restrictions on how much homes can be sold for in the future, aiming to keep the homes affordable.

Habitat of Clallam County is looking at the same kind of model, Robinson said, but it’s focused now on completing its current projects.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached by email at peter.segall@peninsulanews.us.

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