How the Housing Hope program works

As housing prices in Snohomish County rise, Housing Hope is connecting people with affordable homes.

The nonprofit started the Team HomeBuilding program in 1990. It was adapted from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. Spokeswoman Sara Haner calls it a “sweat equity” home ownership program. Instead of a down payment, each household spends 30 hours a week building their home, as well as their neighbors’.

Applicants aren’t limited to families. A single person can sign up.

Typically, houses are built together and each household pitches in. It’s a great way for them to get to know their neighbors before they move in, Haner said. There are housing sites in Arlington, Gold Bar, Granite Falls, Marysville, Monroe, Snohomish, Stanwood and Tulalip.

“In order to be successful in the program, you need to have a support system to help you build,” Haner said.

About one-third of the construction crews are hired out. Friends and family are invited to lend a hand to finish the remaining work. There also are volunteers through Housing Hope who can help. No construction experience is required. There are jobs for all skill levels. The only requirement is that anyone working on the construction site be at least 18.

If a homeowner is living with a disability preventing them from participating in the construction, a friend or family member can be appointed as the designated “builder.”

Once the last coat of paint dries, Housing Hope holds a ceremony where each family is presented keys to their new home.

New homeowners don’t begin making payments until they move in. On average, families pay about $900 per month for their mortgage, property taxes and insurance. The housing loans can be paid off over 33 to 38 years, Haner said. These mortgages also can be subsidized based on a household’s income.

Housing Hope is currently recruiting for 10 homes to be built in Sultan this year.

There is no waiting list. However, each person or family must submit an application and meet eligibility guidelines. For example, a family of four cannot make more than $5,920 per month before tax.

For more information about the program and terms of eligibility, visit

Application forms, in Spanish and English, can be found on the website.

People also can call 425-347-6556 extension 230 or email and request that a print application be mailed to them.

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