Habitat for Humanity of Island County celebrates 50th housewarming

Lindsey Shannon can’t bring herself to climb higher than two steps up a ladder.

But that didn’t stop her from helping a team of Habitat for Humanity of Island County builders and volunteers construct her a home in record time — five months.

Friday, the Oak Harbor single mother of three young boys received keys to the first house she’s ever owned — a dream she thought beyond her reach.

“I would never be able to afford this without Habitat’s help,” she said. “My sweat equity was the down payment. And it happened so quickly. I applied in June, construction started in September and I’m moving in tomorrow.”

The 1,300-square-foot house has three bedrooms, one bathroom, a spacious kitchen and front room and a garage. It’s located in the Pine Terrace neighborhood where Habitat built two other homes.

The house is built to be energy efficient with well-padded installation.

“I’ll no longer pay $500 a month in utilities, which killed me financially,” Shannon said of the two-bedroom home she rented in Crescent Harbor. Her rent was $1,150, which she termed “incredibly cheap” these days as regional rents continue to climb.

“A family of six is cramming themselves into two-bedroom apartments because that’s all they can afford,” said Shannon, who has kept tabs on rents and mortgages the past five years working at a title and escrow office.

Shannon said her mortgage payments will be about $900 a month, including taxes. She expects her utility costs will be greatly reduced.

“Our goal is not only for people to have a home but also make it affordable to live in,” said Orin Kolatis, chief operation officer of Habitat for Humanity of Island County.

The national organization, Habitat for Humanity, started in 1976, with the goal of ending homelessness and providing affordable, permanent housing through community construction crews.

Qualifying families typically are paying housing expenses exceeding 50 percent of their income.

Shannon’s house is not only special for her family but also the “family” of the local Habitat for Humanity nonprofit organization.

Friday marked its 50th housewarming presentation, and this year marks its 20th anniversary. It became an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International in 1998, led by local residents Vic and Marlene Jones. Its motto: “Through shelter, we empower.”

When the organization started, it took at least a year to build a house, Gary Wray, organization president, noted during the key presentation.

Increasing the workday schedule to five days from three days, along with other changes, has cut construction time in half, Wray noted.

He added that Habitat for Humanity of Island County is being recognized nationally for “its cutting edge” program, promising more detail at future 20th anniversary gatherings. “This little old county is doing phenomenal things,” Wray said.

The Shannon house also marked the last project for construction supervisor Skeeter Fagan, who’s worked for Habitat about one year, and the first project for construction crew leader Rebecca Janisch, an AmeriCorps volunteer.

Lindsey Shannon thanked the many volunteers she met during construction, moving around the empty living room with tears and hugs for some three dozen people, including family, friends, co-workers and others who measured, sawed and hammered alongside her.

Meanwhile, her three rambunctious boys, Knox, 8, Rocco, 4, and Teague, 3, ran from room to room, looked out windows, hid in closets, and stopped occasionally at the kitchen counter for cake.

“This is my room just for me,” Knox proudly announced at one point, standing in a bedroom with a soft, beige carpet. “I’m going to paint it with a giant Seahawks symbol.”

Knox Shannon, 8, holds, a gnome given by his aunt.

Knox Shannon, 8, holds, a gnome given by his aunt.

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