MOLALLA PIONEER (March 29, 2012) – Local volunteers will be teaming up this year to build homes for low income families in Molalla through the North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity program.
The nonprofit housing program has plans to build two houses on donated land on E. 8th Street in Molalla, said NWV Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Jerry Ambris.
The NWV Habitat for Humanity chapter serves the Molalla, Scotts Mills, Silverton, Mt. Angel, Woodburn, Aurora, Gervais, Hubbard and Canby communities and has built 36 homes in the past 25 years. However, this year’s two building projects will be their first in Molalla.
The program is geared for families or individuals who are ready to own a home but need some help, Ambris said. Habitat for Humanity keeps costs low by coordinating sponsorships and volunteer work teams and providing participating families with a zero-percent mortgage based on their income.
“The homes are not given away. There is a mortgage, so they have to have employment and we also like to see them have decent credit,” Ambris said. “We don’t want to set up a family for failure.”
All homes are built with sustainability in mind and qualify for an Energy Star rating, helping the owners keep utility expenses down, Ambris said.
Families are involved throughout the process and provide input on their home. They’re also asked to contribute a minimum of 500 hours of sweat equity – at least 250 from the immediate family. The additional 250 hours can come from friends and community members.
The program is open to U.S. citizens with an income between 25 and 60 percent of the area’s median income, depending on family size. For a family of four, the qualifying salary range is between $17,800 and $42,700, Ambris said.
Those interested in the program can visit http://www.nvwhabitat.org for more information or call NWV Habitat for Humanity’s Mt. Angel office at 503-845-2434 to start the pre-screening process.
How to help
Habitat for Humanity hopes to break ground on the Molalla projects later this spring with the goal of completing the homes before Christmas, Ambris said. Now, they’re in the process of recruiting volunteers and businesses to provide sweat equity and sponsorships.
From helping with building, painting and cleanup to volunteering in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore building materials surplus shop in Mt. Angel, there are many ways to lend a hand.
“It’s not necessarily just swinging hammers and saws,” Ambris said. “There’s something for everybody. Just have a willingness and passion for work.”
Responsible teenagers are also encouraged to get involved, with an adult volunteer participating alongside every three or four teens.
Already, Wells Fargo, Special Edibles and Clinkscales Portable Toilets and Septic Service have offered donations for the Molalla projects, said Katy Zilverberg, resource development director for NWV Habitat for Humanity.
They hope local churches will come together to build one of the Molalla houses, organizing work crews from their congregations.
“It’s just a great way to engage the local churches and have them work together as a unified front in the community,” Zilverberg said.
She’s already met with pastors from Foothills Community Church and Conservative Christian Fellowship, both Molalla churches, and plans to connect with more.
In addition, the program relies on professionals to handle electrical, plumbing and other licensed jobs. “We’re always looking for ways to partner with specialty trades, because volunteers cannot do that,” Ambris said.
A Build-A-Thon sponsored by Clackamas Federal Credit Union is in the works. Volunteers sign up for Friday or Saturday shifts to work during the weekends of June 22 or June 30.
Leading up to their work day, volunteers are encouraged to collect sponsorships from family and friends. The Huddart Family Foundation has offered to match up to $25,000 raised at the Build-A-Thon.
“Anybody that donates to the Build-A-Thon, their money is going to be matched dollar for dollar,” Zilverberg said.
— Bethany Monroe