Willamette West Habitat for Humanity
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Vance Place

 Vance Place is named in honor of Al Vance, who was involved with Willamette West Habitat for more than 20 years, and worked on nearly every house we built.  Al passed away in May at the age of 87, and true to his nature, was working at the Vance Place neighborhood right until the end.  He always had time to help our volunteers learn how to accomplish the tasks placed before them.  In 2009, Al was honored by the Willamette West Board of Directors with the 2009 Brauner Award, which honors volunteers who show leadership, humility and sustained dedication. 

In the Beginning…
Back in the late 1990’s, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) purchased several properties from private homeowners along SW Farmington Road because of an upcoming widening project.  Two areas impacted by this were the intersections of Farmington Road / 170th and Farmington Road / 160th.  Once the widening project was complete in 2000, ODOT had some land available for sale.

One of the lots available was the 1.31-acre corner of Farmington Rd and 160th, now known as Vance Place.  We purchased the parcel from ODOT in October 2002 with help from the 2003 HOME Investment Partnership program administered by Washington County.  In addition to an $85,000 loan from the HOME program, we also received a $50,000 grant from Meyer Memorial Trust and $60,000 from private donors.

Sending in the Marines
In 2004, we had a de facto agreement with the 617th US Marine Engineering Support battalion for volunteer labor and equipment.  They were going to do the infrastructure work required for the Farmington Road properties as a training exercise.  Shortly thereafter, the 617th was put on notice that they were being re-deployed to active status within the next 6-12 months, so had to withdraw their support for our project.  Since other neighborhoods were being built, Vance Place’s infrastructure work was put on hold.

Pouring Rain / Pouring Cement    
We began clearing the land in early 2008, putting in utilities and roads that summer.  The first foundations were poured, in the rain, in January 2009.  The first two homes, a two-story, 5-bedroom home and a one-level ADA home, were completed in a record-breaking 141 days, thanks to great volunteer involvement and some help from Loranger Builders, whose owner, Claire Loranger, is a Willamette West Habitat board member.

Green Building Practices
While we have been very rigorous in applying energy saving technology in the past, the Vance Place neighborhood stands apart as our first neighborhood that will have Energy Star Certified houses

Our first ‘benchmark’ home passed the air filtration test, showing less than 70% of the Energy Star allowed air exchange, resulting in increased energy efficiency, and overall lower energy costs for our homeowners. Finally, a preliminary review by a LEED representative indicates that Willamette West Habitat built homes should meet the Silver Level LEED requirement.  

Not only do our homes include Energy Star-rated appliances from Whirlpool, we also install 90% gas furnaces, 80% of lighting fixtures in the homes utilize CFL's, and small well-placed windows enable our homes to meet seismic and wind criteria.  

Children’s Voices fill the air
All nine houses have been built and are home to 17 adults and 32 kids.  These 49 people in their ‘previous life’ shared only 19 bedrooms collectively in their homes; their new Habitat homes have a combined 34 bedrooms!  Can you imagine the feeling of space and freedom they must be feeling!

The Economic Impact
If you add up the monthly rent payments made by our nine families it came to a total of $6,574 each month.  However, their combined mortgage payments (principal only) are only $3,328 per month!  That is a neighborhood savings of $38,952 per year.  Over a 30-year-period, that adds up to over one million dollars!  Additionally, the entire neighborhood will pay an estimated $16,000 annually in property taxes, helping the local economy get back on its feet.