Two families took ownership of brand new Habitat for Humanity homes this past weekend in Bremerton.
For the families moving into the new Bay Vista homes, it was part of what Kitsap County’s Habitat executive director Daryl Daugs called “the coolest day ever.”
Those families are Salam Saleh and Haji Kurisha and their son, Abdulah, and young daughter, Sarah; and Randy and Brenda Miles and their sons, Gavin and Dylan.
“I’d like to thank everyone that helped to build the house and also my wife who came every Saturday religiously for like two years while I worked most of the time,” Randy Miles told the crowd. “She put in most of the hours, so thank you, and thank you all for coming out.”
Salam Saleh also spoke briefly to the gathered crowd.
“Thank you very much to everyone who volunteered,” he said. “I’m so excited today.”
The Navy has contributed many, many hours to Habitat over the years and Father Henry Hernando from Naval Base Kitsap was on hand with Holy Water to bless the homes and a pair of Bibles that were given to the families. Noting that habitat means to dwell, Father Hernando quoted scripture, saying, “He who dwells in the shelter of the most high abides in the shade of the Almighty.”
Local Girl Scouts were also on hand Saturday to give each of the families baskets full of housewarming gifts. Habitat partners also provided appliances, shelves stocked full of groceries and more.
Habitat has been in Kitsap County for 20 years and Saturday’s event marked the completion of 73 homes. Habitat, which manages zero interest loans for the families, has built some 600,000 homes worldwide and it is the sixth largest homebuilder in the U.S. Daugs noted that eligible families must be low income at 30 to 60 percent of the poverty level.
Eligible families also must come from substandard housing that isn’t appropriate for families and kids.
“And then, the really big thing about Habitat is you need to be willing to partner with Habitat to build your home,” Daugs added. “At Habitat we call ourselves not a hand out, but a hand up.”
The homes are built entirely by volunteers and Daugs noted that, “the families have to put in at least 500 hours of sweat equity into their own homes.”
In addition, the families go through financial management, home maintenance and emergency preparedness classes.
“These families know more about how to maintain their homes than I do my own that I’ve lived in for a long time because they know where every single nail went in these houses,” Daugs said.