Skagit Habitat for Humanity highlights need for increased access to land for shelter on World Habitat Day
Mount Vernon, WA – September 28, 2017 — As the world continues to urbanize, cities will grow rapidly, with the number of people in need of decent housing increasing faster than ever before. To combat this growing trend, and in commemoration of World Habitat Day, Oct. 2, Skagit Habitat for Humanity is helping to bring attention to the often overlooked role of land for housing.
Habitat for Humanity’s global advocacy campaign, Solid Ground, focuses on improving policies and systems to increase access to land for shelter. Launched in March 2016, the campaign aims to touch the lives of 10 million people. Solid Ground is focused on four key areas: secure tenure, slum upgrading, disaster resilience and gender equality.
“Thanks to the support of partners and supporters, the campaign has already started to help millions of people access decent housing through changing land policies and systems,” said Kimberly Bell, Resource Development Coordinator “But there is still much work to be done. For many around the world, access to the land is the first big step toward having an affordable place to call home.”
Last year, over 150 governments agreed to the New Urban Agenda as a global framework highlighting the need for urban policies to emphasize housing, focus on secure tenure and prioritize community-led development. Skagit Habitat for Humanity invites its community and supporters to help ensure governments are held accountable to these commitments.
To learn more or to advocate for access to land for shelter, visit solidgroundcampaign.org/takeaction.
About Skagit Habitat for Humanity:
Since 1994, Skagit Habitat for Humanity Homebuyers have built 31 homes along with the many volunteers dedicated to the program. 3 Skagit Habitat Homeowners have payed-off their home mortgages and now own their homes outright. $624,720 in property tax has been invested back into our community by Skagit Habitat Homeowners since 1995 & $302,785 in sales tax has been generated from sales at the Skagit Habitat Store since opening in 2009. Over 290 individuals have received on-the-job training, providing them with the skills needed to obtain employment. Over 1,700 tons of resalable materials have been saved from local landfills to date from donations from the generous residents, businesses and organizations in our community. 37 low income Homeowners have received minor repairs and maintenance through Skagit Habitat’s Habitat Helpers Program, allowing them to live safer following these repairs and in some cases allowing them to stay in their homes, providing them financial stability. Through shelter, we empower!
World Habitat Day resources on habitat.org/whd
Habitat’s Solid Ground campaign: solidgroundcampaign.org/takeaction
Regence and Habitat for Humanity have once again partnered, this time in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Regence. This year we welcomed Regence employees as they joined us on the build site and worked alongside Future Homeowners and our many dedicated volunteers to build in the Summerlynd Neighborhood in Mount Vernon. As part of this partnership Regence has pledged $5,000 to Skagit Habitat for Humanity as well. Thank you Regence. Your contribution will pay for half of the next foundation poured at the Summerlynd development, giving a family in our community stability for generations to come!
Regence, rooted in a commitment to the communities they serve since June 2, 1917, was built on the idea of neighbors helping neighbors. This is a perfect fit for a partnership with Habitat for Humanity as we help Future Homeowners achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and their families.
In an article featured in the Seattle Business Magazine, John Levesque discusses Regence’s centennial and how Regence grew from a small communal collective to covering more than 2.4 million people in four states. Read the full article “Past Experience: Most Happy Fellers” in the Seattle Business Magazine.
We also want to thank Olive Garden in Burlington for providing lunch on the day Regence was on site. They provided an elaborate feast of salad, bread sticks and build your own pasta that included a variety of noodles, sauces and toppers as well! Thank you for building strength in our crew as they worked alongside the Regence employees and Future Habitat Homeowners. We truly appreciate your continued support to Skagit Habitat as well as Habitat affiliates across the Country.
Bellingham, WA – June 7, 2017 – As part of its commitment to strengthening, energizing and supporting the communities in which it operates, Peoples Bank today announced that it awarded Skagit Habitat for Humanity a $25,000 Peoples Bank Impact Grant. The funds will be used to purchase a new utility van to support the construction of new homes and the organization’s growing volunteer and administrative needs.
“We were so impressed with the mission of Skagit Habitat for Humanity and moved by the important work they do in the community day in and day out. We are thrilled to be able to support their much-needed services with this Peoples Bank Impact Grant,” said Michelle Barrett, Executive Vice President and Director of Retail Banking and Human Resources at Peoples Bank. “As a locally-owned bank with third generation family leadership, we pride ourselves on building strong customer relationships, creating local job and economic opportunities, and giving generously to the community.”
“We are so grateful to be selected as the recipient of this generous $25,000 Impact Grant from Peoples Bank,” said Kimberly Bell, Resource Development Coordinator of Skagit Habitat for Humanity. “We were in great need of a new utility van to be able to support our New Home Construction Program, the Skagit Habitat Store, special events throughout the year, and our Habitat Helpers minor home repairs program. This grant allows us to continue these programs without disruption so that Skagit Habitat Homeowners achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and their families.”
Addressing an Urgent Need
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 21,000 people in Washington state are homeless. Further, homelessness grew in Washington state 7.3 percent in 2016, the country’s second-largest increase. In recognition of the crisis, Seattle declared a state of emergency in November 2015.
While much of the attention and resources are focused on the homeless problem in Seattle, organizations such as Skagit Habitat for Humanity provide critical services when it comes to addressing the issue in smaller communities. Despite ranking 11th in the state in population, Skagit County has the seventh-highest homeless population, according to the Washington State Homeless Count. About a quarter of those are unsheltered, almost half are children under 18, and about one in ten are senior citizens.
The 2017 Peoples Bank Impact Grant was designed to provide a maximum of $25,000 to a single organization for a specific project, use, capital expense or identified purpose that will have a long lasting, positive impact on the community. Approximately 50 community organizations were invited to apply for the grant.
In addition to the Impact Grant, Peoples Bank donates hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to local and regional nonprofit organizations providing valuable services in the arts, child and family services, education, health and social services, and civics. For more information about Peoples Bank community giving, please visit peoplesbank-wa.com/about-us/community-giving.
About Peoples Bank
Peoples Bank is a locally owned and operated, independent community bank with almost $1.5 billion in assets. Headquartered in Bellingham, Washington, the Bank was founded in 1921 and operates 25 branches and two loan production offices located throughout Washington. In its most recent rating, Bauer Financial, a leading independent bank rating firm, awarded Peoples Bank a superior rating of five stars. This rating recognizes Peoples Bank’s strong financial management practices, dedicated employees and long-standing customer relationships.
The lack of affordable housing has been an issue for quite some time in Skagit County. Recent data compiled on the new Skagit County Trends website showed that in 2015, more than a quarter (26.8%) of Skagit County renters paid more than half their monthly income on rent, a greater percentage than all of Washington (21.1%) and the entire US (23.5%). So it was a blessing to receive support for our builds from Skagit County again this year.
This year’s funding purchased the build rights from Home Trust of Skagit for two homes and a portion of building materials for one home in the Summerlynd Neighborhood, Mount Vernon. This grant, totaling $85,440, is the largest that Skagit Habitat has received from Skagit County to date. It is generous support like this that makes us say we have had a great year.
We will complete the two current builds by the end of this year or early 2017. We will be building four more homes over the next two years at Summerlynd, for a total of seven affordable homes in the neighborhood. Habitat Homeowners help build their own home alongside construction volunteers. In-kind donations of materials and services along with financial contributions from our many generous donors help keep our building costs down thus maintaining affordability. The Habitat Homeownership Program selects families based on ability to pay and keeps mortgage payments to 30% or less of our Homeowners’ incomes.
So let’s spread the word: Skagit Habitat mortgage payments are more affordable than rent! And, after all, strong and stable homes help build strong and stable communities.