Doug Standish (left to right) Ezri Standish, Kayla Standish, Arya Standish and Brander Standish outside their home in Stanwood. The Standish family provided sweat equity as a down payment on their house. They continue to work on other homes in their neighborhood. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Doug Standish (left to right) Ezri Standish, Kayla Standish, Arya Standish and Brander Standish outside their home in Stanwood. The Standish family provided sweat equity as a down payment on their house. They continue to work on other homes in their neighborhood. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

With down payment of ‘sweat,’ 9 Stanwood families are homeowners

A Housing Hope program helps families buy houses with “sweat equity”: “We busted our butts to get here.”

STANWOOD — Kayla and Doug Standish recently moved into a brand-new home. The house has three bedrooms, abundant natural light and enough room for their kids to play.

For the down payment, they used “sweat equity.”

The Standishes and eight other families built their own neighborhood in Stanwood. They spent 32 hours per week — on top of full-time jobs — to build the houses. It took 16 months, but the new homeowners finally picked up their keys in December.

“We busted our butts to get here,” Kayla Standish said.

Housing Hope’s Team HomeBuilding Program, a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, allows people to build and buy homes in rural areas. Those in the program provide labor instead of a down payment. Monthly mortgage payments start after move-in day.

Housing Hope has helped 320 Snohomish County families build houses through the program since 1992. Nationally, the program has helped more than 50,000 families build homes since the 1970s.

Tanya Ward, the Team HomeBuilding program manager, said some homeowners are now second-generation builders. They grew up in houses their parents built through the program.

“The majority of the people stay in their houses a long, long time,” Ward said. “They build a community.”

The Standishes said the stability of homeownership is a huge relief. After renting apartments in Everett, Marysville and a couple duplexes in Lake Stevens, they’re ready to stop moving.

“Rent isn’t going to go up by $200 next month,” Kayla Standish said. “No one is going to say, ‘Actually, we’re going to sell the unit you’re in and you have 28 days to go.’ It will be nice to look at our finances and know what’s certain.”

Households must earn at least $53,000 to qualify for the program. They also need two years of stable work history and at least a credit score of 640.

“I love what I do and I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” said Doug Standish, who is the teen development director for a YMCA branch. “But I couldn’t buy a house in Snohomish County with what we make.”

The Standish family provided sweat equity as a down payment on their home and continue to work on more homes in the neighborhood. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Standish family provided sweat equity as a down payment on their home and continue to work on more homes in the neighborhood. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The maximum amount households can earn depends on family size, but it cannot exceed 80% of the area median income. A Snohomish County family of four, for example, cannot earn more than $90,500. A one-person household cannot earn more than $63,350. Ward said roughly half of the program applicants are families and half are single adults.

The Team HomeBuilding Program constructs houses in rural Snohomish County, including north of Marysville and east of Highway 9. The program builds about 10 homes per year but has a wait list of at least 60 households at any given time.

Kayla and Doug Standish were on the list for eight years, waiting for the right location. Kayla Standish’s parents bought their home through a similar program in King County.

“That’s the house I grew up in,” Kayla Standish said.

Housing Hope assembles groups of five to 10 households to build each neighborhood. The program doesn’t require construction experience, but no one is allowed to move in until all the homes are complete. A full-time construction supervisor helps people build the houses.

Doug Standish worked in construction for a while but had never built an entire house.

“I had the basic skills for this type of thing, but I had never applied them in this way before,” Doug Standish said.

Kayla Standish said most of her neighbors didn’t have prior construction experience. They learned as they went. She’s looking forward to getting to know them as neighbors, rather than builders, she said.

“Next fall,” Kayla Standish said, “I have a dream that we’re going to race derby cars down the hill and get hay bales at the bottom.”

Katie Hayes: katie.hayes@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @misskatiehayes.

Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Everett
Pro skateboarding competition coming to Everett in August

Street League Skateboarding’s championship tour will be at Angel of the Winds arena for two days.

Cars drive through the intersection of Highway 9 and South Lake Stevens Road on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 9 to close this weekend in south Lake Stevens

Detours take drivers around the closure between 20th Street SE and 32nd Street SE from Friday night to Monday morning.

Empty shelves in the baby formula section at a grocery store in Lynnwood, Washington. (Jacqueline Allison / The Herald)
Amid baby formula shortage, local moms scrambling to feed babies

Shelves are bare and prices are up. But there are resources for Snohomish County mothers in need.

Everett
$1 million bail for Everett ampm shooting suspect

The suspect, 36, is accused of shooting an acquaintance Monday, dumping the gun in a dumpster and fleeing from police.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Snohomish County seeks input on spending American Rescue Plan dollars

In-person events across the county will help guide more than $80 million in federal recovery money.

Mandy Jeffcott and Aaron King explore the area beneath a highway underpass while conducting a PIT count Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County homelessness rose to 10-year high, count shows

Data released Monday confirmed what advocates suspected: The local homeless population grew amid the pandemic.

Sam Bowles records the run off the water from a chalk drawing with friend and co-artist, Rhyanna Mercer, Tuesday afternoon in Everett, Washington on May 10, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Jackson High’s global TikTok star is chalk full of ideas

Sam Bowles, 18, uses vibrant videos and social media fame to raise awareness of autism.

Dan Bates / The Herald
When Seattle Genetics founder, Clay Siegall lost his father while in college, he switched from studying for an MD to studying for a PhD., and a goal to treat cancer patients.  His efforts are paying off in lives.
Bothell biotech CEO resigns after domestic-violence allegation

Clay Siegall co-founded Seagen, which develops therapies for cancer patients. He’s accused of attacking his wife.

Everett
Nonprofit offers free mental wellness event for local teens

The Saturday gathering at EvCC, sponsored by Leadership Launch, is for teens in eighth grade through college.

Most Read