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Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Granger

GRANGER - Two Lower Valley families are in store for a new home next year, thanks to a regional outreach for Habitat for Humanity

Known as Habitat for Humanity Yakima Valley Partners, the coalition of local churches, businesses and social groups plans to buy land from the city of Granger in preparation for construction next summer.

Mike Nixon, executive director for Habitat for Humanity Yakima Valley Partners, said the agency is looking to buy two adjoining lots in Granger in the 300 or 400 block of Third or Fourth streets.

Earlier this month, Habitat for Humanity received $54,000 to purchase the lots through a grant from Yakima County's affordable housing funds.

"It up ends up a win-win for everybody," Nixon observed. "The city is able to sell the parcels, and after we build them they end up being on the tax rolls."

Of course, the biggest winners are the two low-income families selected to purchase the homes.

Nixon said the houses will have three or four bedrooms each, depending on the needs of the families. The houses will have a market value of about $95,000, but the families will be able to purchase them for between $80,000 to $85,000 and borrow the money at 0 percent interest.

The two families will be selected from an applicant pool of 45 families. Nixon said the decision takes into consideration each family's income level, which must be between 30 to 50 percent of the county's median income. That means an annual income in the range of $15,000 to $30,000 for a family of four.

Nixon said credit history is evaluated and a family's current housing must be considered "inadequate." He added, "That could mean a leaky roof or two or three families in a house. But it could also mean that they are paying too much for rent in proportion to the house they are living in."

Selected families must also commit 500 hours to working on their house or another Habitat for Humanity house.

Work on the two homes could begin as early as next spring, Nixon noted, but a summer construction time frame is more likely.

Once work begins on the homes, Nixon said teams of 15 to 25 people will pour in from around the country to get the homes off the ground.

Nixon said Habitat for Humanity tries to build between six to eight houses each year in Yakima County, with half of those constructed in the Lower Valley.

Over the past 21 years, Habitat for Humanity has built 112 homes in Yakima County that have added $9.5 million in valuation to the county's property tax assessments.

The candidate pool for the Granger homes is closed, Nixon said, but families are welcome to apply for another round of evaluation set for 2007 regarding future Habitat for Humanity homes. For more information or to apply call 509-453-8077.

Anyone wanting to volunteer time in working on the Granger homes, or other Habitat for Humanity homes in Yakima County, can call the same number above.

Nixon advised that volunteers may be shifted between work sites depending on which contractors are at work on a given day.

Even if someone is available for just a day, Nixon said Habitat for Humanity can put them to work.

"We'll take all the help we can get," he laughed.

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