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Construction begins on new Habitat for Humanity house

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | May 20, 2024 6:09 PM

MOSES LAKE — Workers from Bailey and Sons Construction started clearing the site for a new Habitat for Humanity house in Moses Lake on Monday, about five years after the last house was finished.

Executive Director Rebecca Mabius said there have been some changes, including almost all new board members, and some challenges since the last house was built.

“It really has been a journey,” she said. “It’s definitely been a great learning opportunity for myself and our board members.”

A series of personnel changes led to the loss of a lot of experience in the program. 

“There was a ton of changeover in the board. There was a ton of changeover in my position; I think there were three people in four years in this role,” she said.

Mabius has a background in nonprofit management, but said housing was new to her when she was hired as executive director in April 2023. 

Along with the local changes, Habitat for Humanity is changing, adding services and revising some of its eligibility requirements.

“It’s traditionally been known as an organization that built homes at an affordable rate for low-income families and vulnerable populations. We’re still doing that,” she said.

Eligibility requirements have been revised to make its services available to more people.

“A lot of what we’re doing with our home builds is, we are starting to work up a little bit higher into what is identified as the missing middle in the U.S.,” Mabius said. “People who make just a little bit too much money for government support.”

Along with building new homes, Habitat for Humanity is working to help people with upkeep on the homes they have.

“We’re also doing a home repair program and working with individuals in that same category (of vulnerable populations),” she said. 

The “Brush with Kindness” program is for people with repairs that are outside their budget or their expertise.

“It can be as simple as, ‘Hey, I need help with fixing the sink — my sink is dripping,’ to (roof repair). We’ve done several roof repair projects. So we’ll do anywhere from $100 to $30,000  worth of home repair for a family or individual that owns their home,” she said.

The homeownership program requires homeowners to help with the work or support the program in other ways, and so does the home repair program. 

“For our home repair program, as of right now, you may owe anywhere from 10 to 15% of whatever the total cost is. That money goes back into helping fund another Brush with Kindness.”

Habitat for Humanity started as — and still is — a homeownership program, and its rules require a bigger financial commitment. 

“Our homeowner program is based off your ability to pay,” Mabius said. “So you do still have a mortgage payment, you have your principal, your escrow account. And then your need category – so if you are able to pay, you fall into that need category, which is part of that vulnerable population, then let’s put you in a home.”

Potential homeowners are required to provide a lot of information to ensure they can pay back the loan, she said.

“We don’t want to have to foreclose on your home because we didn’t do our due diligence,” she said. “That’s the big thing. Homeownership is a big step for many people.”

Habitat for Humanity sponsors education seminars for potential homeowners, to ensure they 

know how the process works. It can take time. 

“We’re very candid from the beginning. It could take 10 months to two years just to get your application through, get it approved,” she said. “We like to give people that understanding before stepping into the program.”

Potential homeowners do have the right to decline, and that’s what happened with the home scheduled for construction in 2019. The project that started Monday doesn’t have a buyer yet, she said.

Contractor Matthew Bailey said the project will take a minimum of three months if there are no interruptions. Mabius said she’s hoping to revive the contacts Habitat for Humanity had, and provide some opportunities for people who want to volunteer.

People can find volunteer applications, as well as applications for Brush with Kindness and the homeownership program, on the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Moses Lake website, habitatgreatermoseslake.org.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.




    Dirt starts to fly on the site of the new Habitat for Humanity house in Moses Lake.