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Building boom: three more houses planned for Lyle

Habitat for Humanity seeks families

Before the first Mid-Columbia Habitat for Humanity house in Klickitat County is even completed, the organization is already looking ahead to finding another family to provide housing for.

The first house, being built for a local woman and her 12-year-old daughter at the intersection of Fourth and Washington in Lyle, is expected to be completed in August. Now, with room for several more houses, Mid-Columbia Habitat for Humanity is looking to line up the next lucky family or families.

"We have three more houses to build at this site," explained Stan Horack, construction chiarman for Habitiat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity's Family Selection Committee is currently in the process of finding another family. The organization is advertising at churches and libraries around the mid-Columbia River Gorge region. Application forms are available on request, with the criteria to qualify outlined in the Habitat for Humanity brochure and on its Web site.

"We want to start the next house soon so we can get it enclosed before the rains come," said White Salmon's Roger Holen, president of Mid-Columbia Habitat for Humanity.

According to local organizers, the Lyle project is the first Habitat for Humanity work in Klickitat County -- but will by no means be the last.

"We have a lot in White Salmon on Manly Street," said Holen. "But there have been no water hookups. Now that the city is lifting its moratorium, we might be able to build there. It all depends on where we are on the waiting list."

Holen, a former White Salmon mayor who has served as the local Habitat for Humanity president for going on two years, joked about how he ended up in the position.

"When Stan found out I was no longer mayor and I had idle time on my hands, he conned me into becoming president," Holen laughed.

The house currently under construction by a team of volunteers is a three-bedroom, 1,200 square feet structure.

"It's decent and affordable housing, but not deluxe," Horack said.

The construction team usually works three days a week, with the main crew working Friday, Saturday, and Monday.

"As many as 20 guys have come in to work," Horack said. "Usually we have nine or 10 on a given day."

"There are a lot of well-meaning, good people out there to help. We are all volunteers," said Holen.

Holen pointed out that the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity builds homes in both Washington (Klickitat County and Skamania County) and Oregon (Hood River County and Wasco County).

"The frequency of the building we can do depends on the availability of volunteer labor," Horack said. "When they are doing this for free, they fit it in to their schedules. Of course, we expect that."

The organization provides homes that are sold for cost -- with terms tailored to what the new buyer can afford.

"We adjust terms of the mortgage to a zero-interest loan," explained Horack.

"Also, we like to tailor the house for a particular family that will be living in it, as much as we can," Holen said.

Both Horack and Holen offered nothing but praise for the citizens of Lyle.

"The Lyle community has been great to work for," Holen said.

According to Holen, among the donations have been free hot meals for the construction workers, contractors offering free labor, and a local business excavating the site at no charge.

"It's been a good experience working here," Holen said. "The community is certainly supportive. The Methodist Church provided meals when a group from Tacoma came to Lyle to help in the construction, and the Lyle School Board even donated some land so we could get four houses on this site instead of three."

Horack said the Habitat for Humanity project was rewarding in many ways.

"I always wanted to work on a Habitat project, and when it was announced this was starting in this area, I signed up and have been with it ever since," said Horack. "It's rewarding doing this sort of stuff."

Holen added that building affordable housing requires the generosity of many to make it work.

"It really does take a community to do this," Holen said.


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