Habitat for Humanity looks to build in Molalla

MOLALLA PIONEER (February 14, 2011) – The North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity is looking to launch home-building projects in Molalla in the next couple years to give local families a hand in achieving home ownership.

Jerry Ambris, executive director of the North Willamette Valley chapter of the international nonprofit organization, said they have been scouting land in Molalla and currently have a couple options.

NWV Habitat is in the process of getting an appraisal for lots that landowners have offered to donate, Ambris said. The nonprofit also has money set aside to purchase a lot in Molalla, if needed.

Molalla has been a part of NWV Habitat for Humanity’s affiliated area, Ambris said, but so far no affordable housing projects have been constructed here. Currently, Habitat is wrapping up two house projects in Canby and they will be starting on three houses in Silverton this May, Ambris said. Typically, it takes them five to six months to build a home.

“In a nutshell, we are a Christian ecumenical housing ministry that wants to do away with homelessness and poverty,” Ambris said.

Depending on the property acquisition, the Molalla projects could break ground as early as 2012. If they are able to use the properties offered by donation, which will require some work to prepare them for building, they would likely start in 2013, Ambris said.

NWV Habitat for Humanity also serves Aurora, Gervais, Hubbard, Woodburn, Scotts Mills, Silverton and Mt. Angel, where their office is headquartered.

Once a site has been secured, a Habitat family selection committee begins doing outreach to the community through schools, churches and other avenues to get the word out about their project and recruit applications from potential families. They hold an Outreach Night offering more information on the program.

“The homes are not given away,” Ambris said. “They are purchased by the partner families at zero interest and at zero profit for us.”

Before choosing a family, the selection team makes sure the family qualifies financially and has legal residency.

“We make sure that when we select families, we don’t set them up for failure,” Ambris said. “We want them to be successful homeowners.”

The selected family must also agree to invest 500 hours of sweat equity into the home throughout the building project, Ambris said.

The homes are constructed primarily by volunteers, keeping costs low, although some subcontractors are hired for work requiring a particular specialty or license. Ambris said when they do hire subcontractors, they try to keep the business local.

Besides donated labor, Habitat makes use of donated materials. They also seek to involve the family in the decision process and incorporate sustainability whenever possible, Ambris said.

Since its inception in 1986, the NWV Habitat for Humanity has completed 32 homes — soon to be 34 as they wrap up their two projects in Canby next week. They’ve also sponsored the building of 52 homes internationally.

NWV Habitat for Humanity’s board is made up of local volunteers, including Molalla resident Dennis Houser, store manager at CarQuest. Ambris said they are looking to add more Molalla area community members to their board.

“If they are wanting to help get involved in the community and help hard working families, they should get involved,” Ambris said.

Houser said he became involved with Habitat after hearing about it through his assistant manager, whose wife volunteers with the nonprofit. Although he didn’t know where he’d find the free time to devote to the program, Houser said he felt it was a worthwhile project and decided to join.

“I’m excited for the prospect of being able to help folks make that jump into home ownership that maybe on their own they wouldn’t be able to,” Houser said.

Houser said he is happy to talk with locals wanting to learn more about Habitat.

“If they’re interested they can bounce questions and ideas off of me,” he said.

Besides donations and grants, Habitat for Humanity is also supported by its ReStore, located by their main office in Mt. Angel.

ReStore offers a variety of building materials and appliances, both used and brand new, available for purchase by the public. The store receives overstock supplies from building stores such as Home Depot and also donations from builders and homeowners who provide used windows, doors and other goods during a remodel. The store is a way to raise money for Habitat while also recycling materials that could otherwise end up in landfills, Ambris said.

The store, located at 225 Franklin Street in Mt. Angel, is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ambris encourages the public to support Habitat by shopping or volunteering at the store.

NWV Habitat for Humanity will dedicate its two newly-completed homes in Canby on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. and invites the public to attend. The ceremony will be held at 525/535 N. Locust Street in Canby.

The first home will belong to Jose and Elva Gonzalez and their two daughters, Salma and Tirsa. Elva has been supporting her family by working full-time on a worm farm after Jose was critically injured in a work-related incident in 2005, according to a NWV Habitat press release. Clackamas Alliance sponsored Jose and Elva to help them realize their dream of homeownership.

The second home is being dedicated to Alejandro and Sulamita Gonzalez and their three children. Alejandro has been working at the United Salad Company for almost 10 years. The Disciples Build program, a team of volunteers from area churches, sponsored the family.

— Bethany Monroe

Original article

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