Sequim’s Habitat for Humanity project gets $800K in federal funds

Last week, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-06), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced $2.6 million in new federal funding to support community projects in Clallam County — including $800,000 for Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County’s Brownfield Road Project.

The funding comes along with $2.6 million in new federal funding to support community projects in Clallam County.

Also getting federal funds are $1 million for the Port of Port Angeles’s Waterfront Center project, and $800,000 for the Makah Indian Tribe’s Duplex Housing for Essential Workers on the Makah Reservation.

Habitat for Humanity’s Sequim project aims to help address the critical need for affordable workforce housing on the Olympic Peninsula by launching a project to build as many as 53 homes. The funding aims to go towards infrastructure development, including roads, sidewalks, lighting, and utility connections.

The Brownfield Road project is slated to have its infrastructure completed by the end of 2024, Kilmer’s representatives noted, with home construction beginning in early 2025.

The goal of the project, they said, is that by providing affordable workforce housing, the initiative will enable critical community workers, emergency responders, and other essential staff to reside in the same communities they serve. The Brownfield project will also stimulate local businesses, create jobs and generate demand in the broader economy, as it is planned to use local contractors and businesses for infrastructure development and home construction.

“We all know we need more housing that people can afford; the Brownfield Road Project is a step forward for affordable workforce housing on the Olympic Peninsula, promising not just homes but the foundation of a thriving community,” Kilmer said in a press release. “This project embodies a strategic investment in our community, supporting the individuals and families who will call these houses their homes.”

Kilmer visited the Brownfield project site in July 2023, celebrating a ceremonial breaking ground with local and regional leaders and numerous Habitat for Humanity volunteers.

“Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County is incredibly grateful to receive this funding opportunity for our Sequim Ave project, where we plan to build 50 affordable housing units for home ownership,” said Colleen Robinson, CEO with Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County.

“Without the support and collaboration of many key stakeholders a community project like this would not come to fruition,” she said. “Rep. Kilmer has been a Habitat Champion for many years and our Habitat affiliate is honored to receive this funding because we believe through shelter we empower and strengthen our community.”

The federal funding also drew praise from W. Ron Allen, Chairman/CEO of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Sequim city mayor Brandon Janisse and Colleen McAleer, executive director of the Clallam County Economic Development Council.

“The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe fully supports the Brownfield Road project in Sequim,” Allen said in the press release. “The Olympic Peninsula, like many areas in America, urgently needs to generate affordable housing opportunities to reduce the high eviction rates and increase household financial stability.

“Working families spend over 30-40% of their income on housing and their take-home check is severely impacted by the rising cost of essential living expenses. We believe that to have a healthy and thriving community, we must find ways to provide affordable housing for our young families in search of their first homes. This project targets that urgent need.”

Said Janisse, “This project is about building a stronger, more inclusive community where everyone can call home. The overwhelming community support behind this project is a testament to the community’s shared values and commitment to making sure that all residents have access to safe and affordable housing. This project not only fulfills a pressing societal need but also fuels economic growth and fosters community resilience.”

McAleer pointed out that Clallam County ranks as one of the least affordable places to buy a home in Washington state, according to the affordability index published by the University of Washington’s Center for Real Estate Research.

“While we may not be alone in the housing crisis, our rural community has been particularly hard hit by it,” she said in the release. “[Habitat] plays an integral role in our ability to improve the lives of our residents.”

Other county projects

The Field Arts & Events Hall at the Port Angeles Waterfront Center is a recipient of $1 million in new federal funding looking to help complete the facility’s construction.

The center, which opened in July 2023, looks to recipient of $1 million in new federal funding, looks to bring in $10 million in annual sales and services, create more than 300 permanent jobs and contribute more than $500,000 in additional state and local taxes once completed, Kilmer’s representatives noted.

“This is an investment in the future vibrancy and resilience of our community,” Kilmer said.

“The City of Port Angeles is so grateful to have the support of Representative Kilmer and his staff to ensure that our community members, visitors, and future generations will have access to the cultural diversity and amenities of the Port Angeles Waterfront Center Campus,” said Kate Dexter, Mayor, City of Port Angeles.

“The entire campus and Field Hall Building is already enhancing the quality of life for businesses, residents, and visitors. We want to thank Derek for his continued support of Port Angeles and all of the work he does for our community.”

The Makah Tribe will receive $800,000 for a new duplex housing project that aims to increase housing on the reservation. In recent years, the Tribe has identified a need for on-reservation housing to address the chronic shortage that impacts not only tribal families, but also the recruitment and retention of essential professional staff for the Sophie Trettevick Indian Health Center, Neah Bay Public Safety and other departments.

To address this issue, the Tribe has completed planning and design for six duplexes using tribal hard dollars and identified a plot of Makah-owned land for construction. The new funding would be used exclusively for materials and construction.

The housing project supports healthcare, education and public safety systems on the remote Makah Reservation while also promoting equity by addressing health disparities and access issues faced by American Indians.

“The Makah Tribe’s duplex housing project is a strategic initiative aimed at resolving the critical housing shortage on the Makah Reservation, thereby ensuring the retention and recruitment of essential workers in healthcare, public safety, and education,” Kilmer said. “This project not only addresses vital community needs but will stand as an example of sustainable development for the Tribe.”

Makah Tribe chairman Timothy Greene said the project will support the healthcare, public safety and education in the remote community by ensuring the Tribe has reliable, long-term staff who have access to local housing.

“Our housing shortage directly impacts the Tribe’s ability to hire and retain other essential professional staff such as Neah Bay Public Safety teachers for Cape Flattery School District and medical professionals at the Sophie Trettevick Indian Health Center,” Greene said. “All of these roles rely on long-term community relationships and an understanding of social and cultural context to be successful, making staff retention critical.

“We appreciate Representative Kilmer’s heart for these issues and ability to deliver resources that improve the viability of our communities.”