Homes for 16 families to go up

MONROE – Misti Land and her husband have dreamed about owning a house during their 10 years of marriage.

With their two daughters, the couple now lives in a relative’s house in Monroe. The family can’t afford a down payment, Misti Land said.

“We live most of the time from paycheck to paycheck,” she said.

But the couple will start building their own house in town this summer, thanks to a program that promises low-income families subsidized loans with no down payment in exchange for their labor.

Housing Hope, a nonprofit housing agency in Snohomish County, plans to help people with limited incomes build 16 four-bedroom townhouses. Participants will work 30 hours or more a week for a year to build their new houses.

Their sweat will give them a discount of $20,000 to $40,000, said Jeff Nicely, a program manager of Housing Hope.

“It’s a year of hard work and sacrifice,” Nicely said. “But most people find it very satisfying, not only building houses, but building a neighborhood.”

The townhouses will be built on two parcels on 179th Avenue SE in the central part of the city, Nicely said.

Housing Hope has purchased the parcels for about $500,000, Nicely said. Construction will start in late June at one site and in the fall at the other site.

Building her own house scares and excites Misti Land, who has no home-building experience.

“I want something that my husband and I are proud of,” she said.

The builder-owner program has allowed 177 families to become homeowners in rural Snohomish County since 1992. As the county grows and property values rise, many people can’t afford to own a house without financial assistance, Nicely said.

“The cost for first-time home buyers is going out of reach for working families,” he said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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