Building momentum: Silverton Habitat project gets a federal boost

April 2022 Posted in Community, News

By James Day

Efforts to put together an ambitious 18-home Habitat for Humanity project in Silverton are receiving a $1 million windfall from the federal government.

This is the almost-completed first home in what eventually will be an 18-home Habitat for Humanity development off of Pine Street in Silverton.

The funds, part of a $1.5 trillion spending package signed by President Joe Biden last month, were secured by Oregon’s two U.S. senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity is scheduled to receive the funds later this spring.

“We’re in this housing crisis together,” said Kari Johnsen, executive director of the North Willamette Habitat chapter. “The congressionally directed funding we are receiving, thanks to Sen. Merkley and Sen. Wyden, will support the capital growth of our subdivision in Silverton. This is a win not only for North Willamette Habitat for Humanity but also for Silverton and the surrounding communities.”

The new funding represents approximately 30% of the overall budget for the project, said Danielle Anderson, North Willamette chapter marketing and communications manager. Anderson said that the funds “will go toward subdivision infrastructure, allowing us to spend the remainder of our budget on hard costs for building.”

The project will be built under the usual Habitat for Humanity protocols. The home will be constructed largely with volunteers, with the family that will occupy the house also responsible for volunteering. Once the family occupies the home its members will be responsible for the mortgage and upkeep.

One home in the subdivision is nearing completion and might be occupied as soon as July, Anderson said. The homes, six single-family residences and 12 townhouses, will be constructed on a 1.9-acre parcel off of Pine Street across from the entrance to Silverton High School.

North Willamette Habitat hopes to begin construction on a second house in May or June, Anderson said, “and we are hoping to ramp up to 5 homes per year through the project, and wrap up late 2025/early 2026.”

Habitat projects – of as many as 20 homes – are common in the Portland metro area but much more rare elsewhere in the state, chapter officials said.

“This is our largest project to date,” Johnsen said. “This is a milestone for our affiliate and we have worked very hard to get here. Our biggest challenge is going to be keeping building costs affordable. With the cost to purchase the land, fluctuations in the cost of building materials and trade labor, we are targeting all of our fundraising efforts to this project.

“A lack of skilled labor increases the labor costs. We’ve had a shortage for some time now. We need volunteers to help offset skilled labor costs.”

The project is called Peters’ Garden. The naming honors Dr. Virgil Peters, one of the chapter’s original board members; his son, Dr. Tim Peters, who is currently a member of the chapter’s construction safety committee; and the late Jennie Peters, Virgil’s wife, whose favorite hymn was “In the Garden.”

Access to the subdivision will be via Schemmel Lane, with first-responders granted emergency entry via Pine. There will be a private road inside the development that also will be usable by walkers and cyclists.

Chapter construction manager Ben Wilt said that the new homes will feature sustainability infrastructure to help the battle against climate change.

“All of our new construction is solar and electric vehicle ready,” Wilt said. “We work with Earth Advantage to provide third-party verification for our home’s performance, as well as training and collaboration throughout the design and build process. We’re exploring options for Zero energy ready certification on our development, which would allow homes to be net zero energy usage with the addition of solar panels.

“Climate change is here, and it will continue to impact those with the least amount of resources most dramatically. With 40% of CO2 emissions coming from the building sector, we feel it imperative to look at how our buildings are affecting our community’s future livability.”

Online Habitat Auction

North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity is hosting an online auction Saturday, May 21 to help pay for the Peters’ Garden development in Silverton.

The event will be streamed live via YouTube, with the pre-showing airing at 5:30 p.m. and the main program at 6 p.m.

To register to bid at the auction go to
Email [email protected] for more information on donating an item.

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