EVERETT — With snow falling and a group of about 50 well-wishers packed into a tiny yard, Stephen Ray Flores Otoya cut the ribbon on his new home Saturday.
Flores and his wife, Sandy, plus their three young children, became the new owners of Phoenix II, a house built by Habitat for Humanity of Snohomish County on 23rd Street in north Everett.
The house got its name because it was built on the site of an older home that burned down in May 2014.
Inside, Pastor Ken Long of Northshore Christian Church led the blessing of the new home.
“Thank the Lord for this beautiful snow and the beautiful reason for coming together,” he said.
The group then lit battery-powered “candles.”
“They didn’t want to use real fire,” Long said, to laughter in the packed living room.
The Floreses met in Peru in 2003. Ray Flores had been working for Sandy’s grandparents there. Sandy, a Cascade High graduate, returned to the U.S. to study at the University of Washington, but they continued a long-distance relationship.
Ray immigrated to the U.S. and they married in 2007. He now works at Boeing while Sandy stays home with Ray J., 5, Sasha, 3, and six-month-old Matias.
Ray J. and Sasha ran around the yard during the ceremony, while Matias spent the morning dozing in a baby carrier on his mother’s chest.
Under Habitat for Humanity’s requirements, they had to contribute 500 hours of sweat equity in building their house. Habitat agreements typically involve a partly subsidized purchase price with a payment plan the new owners can afford.
Ray Flores said they probably put in more than the required 500 hours between the construction site and volunteering at the Habitat store around the corner on Broadway.
When they thanked everyone in the home, which included numerous Habitat volunteers, board members and even residents of other Habitat homes, Sandy Flores made a point to mention those who helped with child care.
“Anyone who watched the kids deserves a trophy,” she said.
The project hit a snag in November when about $3,000 worth of tools were stolen from the construction site.
In true Habitat style, 37 people stepped up and donated money and tools to make sure the home would be completed.
Habitat also is in the planning stages of a 30-unit housing complex on 112th Street in south Everett.
Construction of the first building in Twin Creeks Village, a single fourplex, is scheduled to start next summer. The project is planned eventually to include a 14-unit condominium project, two triplexes and two more fourplexes.
When completed, the project would more than double the number of Habitat homes in Snohomish County.
Phoenix II is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with about 600 square feet of floor space on both floors. The house is painted dark blue. A donated Christmas wreath hangs on the front door.
The Flores kids already have their rooms picked out: Ray J. gets the blue one, while Sasha gets pink.
The family has been living in a two-bedroom apartment off Broadway. There is no yard for the kids.
They planned to move in to their new home Saturday, Ray Flores said.
“We thought it would be fun to do everything today,” he said.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.