Habitat for Humanity hosts its first home dedication since pandemic began

For one Whidbey Island family, the wait for affordable housing is over.

For one Whidbey Island family, the wait for affordable housing is over.

Habitat for Humanity of Island County held its first home dedication since the beginning of the pandemic on Nov. 11. On that rainy Thursday afternoon, the Boone family formally received the keys to their new home.

“To be able to buy a home that will protect my family for years to come means everything,” said Michael Boone, the father of the family. “Habitat has been amazing through this whole process.”

Getting the Boones into the Oak Harbor home required not only their efforts, but the hard work of many local volunteers. Habitat for Humanity built the house for another family in 2011. Last year, when the original owners decided to move, Habitat bought the house back.

Habitat leaders decided the five bedroom house would be a good fit for Michael and Janette Boone and their six children, knowing the large family would put the space to good use, but the house was in need of some repairs. The upstairs bathroom had flooded, the HVAC system was overdue for maintenance and some other parts of the house had fallen into disrepair.

Whidbey Habitat CEO Orin Kolaitis said the pandemic slowed efforts to refurbish the house.

“Because of the pandemic, we couldn’t do any construction during the complete lockdown,” he said. “When the shelter-in-place order was lifted, only our construction manager was able to work on the house.”

Eventually, other volunteers, including Dean Faris, Sue Hosmer, Mark Morris, construction manager Scott Givens and the Boones themselves were allowed to participate. They finished getting the house ready last month.

Pastor Amy Jansen from Living Word Church attended the home dedication to offer a prayer over the home and present the Boones with a new Bible. State Rep. Dave Paul and Oak Harbor City Administrator Blaine Oborn were also in attendance.

“I’m happy to be working on your behalf at the state level for housing affordability,” Paul said. “It’s such an overwhelming problem to address, and what I love about Habitat for Humanity, their work is trying to help just one family and one house at a time.”

Housing affordability has become an increasingly urgent topic for all island municipalities. Kolaitis said workforce housing units are limited, and the wait for an affordable space can take years.

“When families own their home, they benefit in so many ways beyond having shelter. Children do better in school, overall health improves, parents have more job stability, and so much more,” Kolaitis said. “Habitat homes are built to remain permanently affordable in perpetuity.”