Habitat for Humanity to host community appreciation event

Habitat for Humanity of Island County wants to provide an opportunity for the public to learn about what the organization does and how dire the housing situation is nationwide.

And to eat free hot dogs.

The nonprofit is holding Community Appreciation Day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at Habitat’s Oak Harbor store on Pioneer Way. In addition to appreciating the community’s support, the event will launch the organization’s “Cost of Home” campaign.

The informational campaign centers around educating decision-makers and the public about the affordable housing crisis in the U.S. Nearly a third of households in the country are cost burdened, meaning they’re spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Habitat, in addition to building homes for low-income households, will advocate for policy changes to facilitate the growth of more affordable housing.

“It’s just such a massive problem,” said Tony Persson, director of advocacy and retail operations for Habitat for Humanity of Island County.

He said Whidbey Island residents face unique challenges because of the geography and high percentage of houses that serve as vacation homes, especially on the south end.

Starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, speakers will address the local issues and what is being done currently. Christine Cribb, Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce executive director, will be the first speaker.

There will also be a raffle and silent auction, with all proceeds going toward Habitat’s mission. The nonprofit builds homes using volunteer labor for working low-income households who pay for it with a small loan.

Persson said the goal is to build four homes in Island County this year and eight next year. The land the homes are built on are in a trust to ensure they stay affordable in perpetuity.

The store will also offer a 15 percent discount on Wednesday, and all proceeds from the store also support Habitat’s efforts.

“This is the problem,” Persson said of the affordable housing crisis. “Help us fix it for at least eight families a year.”

• Community Appreciation Day is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday June 12, at 290 S.E. Pioneer Way, Oak Harbor.

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