Non-profit homebuilder completes 33-unit project in Lacey

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South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity dedicated the final three homes of its Lacey-based Deyoe Vista development over the weekend, completing the pandemic-delayed 33-home project, the largest yet for the homebuilder in non-profit.

Next, construction begins on 28 townhouses in Tumwater, followed by about 110 homes in Olympia on Boulevard Road, according to the organization.

Deyoe Vista resident Crystal Mazzuca, who spoke to The Olympian ahead of Saturday’s event at the venue, said it was a bittersweet moment.

Since living in the neighborhood near Komachin Middle School, Mazzuca had grown accustomed to the noise of Saturday morning construction, a reflection of the 500 hours of work each new homeowner must put in before occupying their home.

“Part of me is kind of sad because I’m not going to hear it anymore,” said Mazzuca, a single mother with three children, who also recently joined the South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity board of directors.

Mazzuca recalled the life-changing moment of home ownership.

Single, a college graduate, and working full-time as an elementary school teacher, Mazzuca soon realized that while she could afford the rent, it was so high she couldn’t save much more.

“I couldn’t save for a down payment,” she says. “It was hopeless.”

She finally turned to the Internet and typed the following into a search engine: Help for single mothers buying homes.

This led her to consider buying a home from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, even though she had heard that HUD homes often needed a lot of work. His next stop was Habitat for Humanity and it was an eye opener in more ways than one. Mazzuca previously believed that Habitat was strictly building homes overseas or in the aftermath of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and not for someone like her.

She called the local office and was encouraged to apply since her annual income was within the appropriate range of 30-80% of the area’s median income to qualify. In July 2017, she received the call that her candidacy had been approved.

Mazzuca’s reaction? She screamed.

” I have a house ! I have a house ! I have a house ! she remembers screaming out loud at a church in the area where she works today.

SPS Habitat for Humanity is evolving

As life-changing as it was for Mazzuca, South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity also adapted its model to the times when house prices soared. The median price of a Thurston County home reached $500,000 in April, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

The organization previously funded its own projects, but now works with the banking community, giving it faster access to cash after a home is sold to an eligible resident, said SPS Habitat for Humanity CEO Carly Colgan, now in his fourth year with the nonprofit organization. .

They sell homes for between $130,000 and $190,000, which typically results in a $1,000 monthly payment for the resident toward the first mortgage, Colgan said. The home could value a lot more than that, so Habitat claws back the difference in the form of what it called a “silent second mortgage.” The challenge is that the second mortgage has gone up as house prices have risen, she said.

The size of the second mortgage over the years has grown from $40,000 to $200,000, she said.

“It leads us to having conversations about how we make this more sustainable (financially),” Colgan said.

One idea that could be applied to the future development of Olympia on Boulevard Road is to create a land trust model where the organization owns the land. This means that the valuation of the house would only consider the value of the structure, and not the value of the land and the structure, thus controlling the costs a little more.

“We still have to subsidize, but at least it gets the process started,” she said.

The next SPS Habitat for Humanity project is just around the corner. They expect to open 28 homes in Tumwater on Southeast 73rd Avenue and Henderson Boulevard in June. That project is expected to take two years after the pandemic-delayed Deyoe Vista took about six years, Colgan said.

And then the Olympia project is in sight.

The City of Olympia announced in April that it had selected SPS Habitat for Humanity to develop affordable housing on the 10 acres it owns at 3900 Boulevard Road SE, The Olympian reported.

The city and Habitat are now in the middle of a 180-day negotiation period. During the period, the two parties will negotiate a purchase price for the land for what could be 100 to 110 townhouses and “senior cottages”, The Olympian reported.

There’s a lot of demand for affordable housing, Colgan said.

SPS Habitat has an interest list of 500 people, most of whom are single parents or single-earner families.

“They’re not homeless, struggling to pay rent, someone just cringing,” she said.

This story was originally published May 3, 2022 5:45 a.m.

Rolf has worked for The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, the town of Lacey and business for the newspaper. Rolf graduated from Evergreen State College in 1990.

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