Evergreen Habitat for Humanity announced Thursday it has purchased 1.39 acres of land at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on which to build nine homes for low-income families.
Executive Director Josh Townsley said it’s the nonprofit’s first venture in east Vancouver near Northeast 162nd Avenue and first time purchasing land directly from a church. Good Shepherd and Evergreen Habitat for Humanity have been in talks for over a year. The Christian-based nonprofit, a subsidiary of the global Habitat for Humanity, explored deals in the past, and faith groups have paid for construction costs.
“It’s certainly something we’d like to continue doing if churches are in a position for that,” Townsley said, adding that houses of worship may have extra or underused land.
The plot at 16001 N.E. 34th St., in the Parkway East neighborhood is south of the church’s community garden.
The timeline for the project will be weather dependent. In the coming months, Habitat will need to apply to subdivide the land and aims to do infrastructure in early 2021, depending on weather.
Finding available and affordable plots of land for Habitat homes is getting more difficult. When Townsley joined the organization in 2011, he said a lot for a single-family home cost $30,000. Today, it’s $140,000. So, Habitat doesn’t actively look for single lots anymore, but instead aims to find land near parks, schools, transit and services that can fit multiple homes. (The 10-home McKibbin Commons in the Father Blanchet Park neighborhood is the nonprofit’s largest subdivision to date.)
The subdivision next to Good Shepherd will be named Johnson Village after Ray and Harriet Johnson, who have been with Habitat since 1991 serving at different times as volunteers, donors and board members. The Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund is contributing $500,000 toward construction of the nine homes. Their son and trustee of the estate, Michael Lynch, said in a video Thursday that the Johnsons were role models for his parents, exemplifying the idea that everyone should give as they’re able to.
The Rev. Ted Moeller of Good Shepherd blessed the land in a ceremony Thursday.
“May it be a promised land for families that are wandering through the wilderness of home poverty,” he said. “Bless this place.”