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KCCHA gets $1.7 million

Since its inception in 1973 the self-help program of the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority has helped build more than 1,000 homes in Kitsap, Jefferson and Mason counties.

On Tuesday, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program awarded KCCHA more than $1.7 million for the next two years.

“This is the largest grant ever given to a self-help program in the state,” said Bruce Whittle from the USDA’s rural development office in Olympia.

Whittle said the KCCHA office is one of the best in administering the program and helping provide affordable housing.

“This grant will help build 70 homes in the next two years,” said Allen Trunnel, single family housing director for KCCHA. “The real people to thank are the people who are out there making it happen.”

Some of the many challenges of the program is working within the boundaries of the Growth Management Act and being able to meet the funding guidelines set by the federal government, Trunnel said.

“The program promotes rural growth, but it’s organized growth in rural areas like Camp Union,” he said.

To meet the goal of organized rural growth, the program attempts to build around existing services to promote increased economic development in those areas.

Another one of the challenges of the program is helping people through the entire home-building process from land acquisition to securing financing to the construction process, he said.

“We try to work in groups of 10 families and everyone works on everyone else’s home,” Trunnel said. “No one moves in until all the houses are completed.”

The program has four full-time on-site construction supervisors who help participants through the actual construction process and participants are required to spend 30 hours per week on the program, he said.

In addition to the challenge of finding people for the program, once participants are selected, the next challenge is developing lasting relationships.

“We get people from different backgrounds and the challenge is to develop them into a community,” Trunnel said. “By working on each other’s houses, they develop a sense of community and self-reliance.”

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