Home Sweet Home — Habitat for Humanity completes 30th Whidbey Island house
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
October 21, 2011 · Updated 1:28 PM
The Asinsin family was all smiles as they received the keys to their new home built by Habitat for Humanity of Island County volunteers.
“This house is definitely a gift from God,” said Kaui Asinsin. After applying to become a Habitat for Humanity partner family, the Asinsins have been patiently waiting for a year to have the security of their own home.
The family has lived in Oak Harbor for seven years in three different houses. With five children to accommodate, Habitat for Humanity designed a five-bedroom, two-story house in Crosby Commons in Oak Harbor for the family and passed the keys to the Asinsins at a dedication ceremony on Oct. 17.
“The experience has been a blessing to me. Habitat for Humanity is a very great organization. I’ve been blessed to be a part of it and work with different people,” Kaui said.
Cherish, 11, said she’s happy to have her own bedroom. She has plans to paint the room and was glad to choose the color of the blinds.
“The kids are ready to get in,” Kaui said about children Cherish, Cameron, Christian, Chance and Charyssa, ages 1 to 11.
The Asinsin family is the largest family Habitat for Humanity of Island County has served so they received the only five-bedroom house built. This house completes the group of four built by Habitat for Humanity in Crosby Commons.
Many friends and neighbors, as well as Mayor Jim Slowik and City Council members, turned out to welcome the family into their home at the dedication ceremony.
“We don’t get to the celebration point without the help and support of a lot of people,” said Calvin Hewitt, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Island County.
The Asinsin family had a great deal of support and volunteer hours from members of their church, Living Faith Christian Center, Navy VAQ-135, a group from Seattle University and a one-day women build event in May that turned into three days from the vast number of volunteers.
Friends welcomed the family into their home with a song and the children enjoyed their new yard with a game of football.
“Every Habitat family has a great story and I find it really rewarding to help and work with these families to improve their situation. I like how much a group of volunteers working together can accomplish. We’re lifting heavy things and pounding nails and getting sore and at the end of the day, we feel like we’ve accomplished something,” Hewitt said.
Habitat for Humanity is a national organization that partners with families that meet financial and other criteria, including current substandard living conditions like overcrowding, mold or pests, and housing expenses exceeding 50 percent of the family’s income.
“We provide safe, decent, affordable housing for low income people. We try to provide a hand up for people in need,” Hewitt said.
The organization doesn’t give away homes; they sell the house to the family at no profit. The family must also complete 500 sweat equity hours to help build the house and attend classes on becoming a homeowner and financial management.
“It gives the family knowledge of how the house works so they can do a better job of maintaining it over time. It’s all part of ‘hand up.’ We give knowledge, skills and a safe place for the family to live,” Hewitt said.
When designing the house for a family, staff look at the number of children and their ages and genders. Children of opposite genders won’t share a room and neither will children six years apart in age.
“We do build what I believe is a very high quality house that meets and exceeds all the latest energy codes,” Hewitt said.
The goal is to make the house not only affordable to buy but affordable to maintain in order to free up money spent on utility bills for the family to use elsewhere, Hewitt said.
Fully insulated attics, high efficiency windows, low-flow faucets and toilets and ductless mini-split heat pumps reduce electrical and water consumption to lower utility bills.
Special to Island County is Habitat for Humanity’s partnership with Saratoga Community Housing, which holds the land the homes are built on, keeping the house affordable for the present family and following families because they don’t have to pay for the land. Approximately 18 homes participate in the partnership.
Habitat for Humanity’s goal is for the homes to cost the family $300 to $400 less per month, which “frees up money for the family to do other things,” Hewitt said.
“What you see over time with Habitat families is the increased sense of self-assurance, personal dignity; the children with that stability tend to perform well in school -- they’re not worried about where they’ll sleep that night or if they’ll get dinner or about keeping warm. They can focus on other things,” Hewitt said.
One owner recently told Hewitt, “My Habitat house is allowing me to pursue my dreams,” Hewitt said. That’s the goal of giving the families a hand up, Hewitt said.
Habitat for Humanity also offers credit counseling, which has helped some families buy their own homes without relying on Habitat for Humanity to construct them.
Each family has a sponsor. Barb Shaw sponsored the Asinsins by helping them through the process of understanding homeownership, putting in their sweat equity hours and as moral support. She’ll continue to help them through their first year.
“They’re a very giving family, very much tied to the community and willing to put in time and continue putting in time after they get their home,” Shaw said. It’s families like the Asinsins that keep the mission of Habitat for Humanity alive by continuing to volunteer, Shaw said.
“It’s really nice to see sometimes a full-blown mom and dad and kids family get a home. Plus they’ve got cute kids!” Shaw said, smiling.
The Asinsin family’s house is the 30th house Habitat for Humanity has built in Island County. They build from Oak Harbor to Clinton and try to build five or six houses per year.
Nearly 500 volunteers help with construction and volunteer in the Habitat for Humanity store in Oak Harbor, which assists in funding the construction work.
To volunteer or to apply to be a partner family, call the office at 679-9444.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.