Habitat for Humanity of Island County provides affordable housing to improve the lives of many local people

by Carolyn Tamler 10th January 2022


Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home. The organization believes that affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities.


Habitat for Humanity is a US non-governmental and nonprofit organization which was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller who recognized the need for affordable housing. 


Habitat for Humanity of Island County (HFHIC) was formed by Vic and Marlene Jones in 1998, and has grown from a small community affiliate to a county-wide organization. Habitat for Humanity of Island County is supported by the local community through monetary gifts, volunteer support at building sites, donations of vehicles to Cars for Homes, and from the profits from local retail stores located in Freeland and Oak Harbor.



To date, Habitat for Humanity of Island County has built 55 homes, 38 of which are built on property held through a land trust.


Current Projects by Habitat for Humanity of Island County:


  • South Whidbey
    • Heron Park – Seven townhomes to be started once final plan and environmental approvals are received, estimated 2023.
    • Holmes Harbor
      • One single family residence planned for larger family, 3-5 bedrooms.
      • Two additional parcels available for future development.
    • Currently seeking buildable property in South Whidbey for future development.


  • North Whidbey
    • Oak Grove II — Two townhomes under construction approximately 75% complete (Pictures: Meyers Family).
    • Ely Street Townhomes — First of three units to break ground spring 2022.
    • Penn Cove Park —
      • Single family residence expected to break ground summer 2022.
      • Three additional parcels available for future development.


The Ownership Model for Habitat Homes:


  • Habitat for Humanity of Island County operates under a land trust model with restrictions.
  • Homebuyers purchase the improvement, in this case the home, and lease the underlying land at an affordable rate.
  • Lease restrictions provide HFHIC with a first right of purchase in the event the original owner decides to move on.
  • Homeowner earns 1.5% compounded annually.
  • Homeowner is responsible for all taxes, assessments and maintenance on improvement and underlying land.


Permanent Affordability


The Habitat for Humanity of Island County land trust model allows the homes to be permanently affordable by separating the parcel of land from the improvement and selling the improvement only at a price that keeps monthly housing costs below 30% of homebuyer’s income. The homebuyer will purchase their structure and enter into an affordable and renewable 99-year lease with HFHIC. The homebuyer can enjoy the use of the land, without the cost burden of purchasing it.


New Homeowners


On November 11, 2021 the Boone family took ownership of the home where they will finally have a safe and affordable place to raise their six children ages 1-9. (Pictures: Boone Cake, Boone Home, Family Dedication, The closing kiss, the keys)

I want to say thank you all again so much for everything you’ve done for us!!” said new homeowner Janette Boone. “This home has been so life changing! All of the kids are flourishing here.”


Future Plans


Chief Executive Officer, Orin Olaitis, says “Habitat for Humanity of Island County has the track record, credibility, leadership, and expertise to lead our region in meeting its housing challenges. Our goal is to increase our production from two to three homes per year to eight to ten per year by the end of fiscal year 2024 (June 30, 2025). To do this, we need to raise an additional $500,000 per year.”


Wray notes: One of the biggest obstacles we face is obtaining buildable land in Island County. Many of the available lots require extensive and costly remediation to make them build-ready. Other properties lack infrastructure, like access to sewer, water, and power. The cost to make these properties build-ready can range from $60,000 to $100,000, or more. Having these funds readily available will ensure that building continues year-round, with no breaks to wait for lots to be build-ready.”


If you want to make any type of donation to support Habitat for Humanity of Island County, or if you want to learn any more about what is needed, call the local office in Oak Harbor at: 360-679.9444 or check their website:

Posted by WhidbeyLocal
10th January 2022 9:07 am.
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