Building Houses, Breaking Barriers in Yakima

Homeownership has long been a key to stability, community, and building wealth for families. It also presents impossibly high barriers for families starting with low to no wealth. Yakima Valley Partners Habitat for Humanity breaks down these barriers. A new solar installation supported by Spark Northwest will be a step towards energy independence and community resilience while lowering operating costs and freeing more funding for housing.

Each year, YVP Habitat for Humanity provides homeownership workshops, financial planning, and coordinates volunteers to build three homes for hard-working families in need of decent and affordable housing. Partner families invest 500 hours of sweat equity toward owning their home, which includes construction and workshops.

Yakima Valley Partners Habitat for Humanity enables homeownership through its workshops and construction program
The program is powered by profits from the volunteer-run Yakima Habitat for Humanity Store, which sells new and used building materials. With support from Spark Northwest, Habitat for Humanity successfully applied for grants to fund a 120kW solar installation for the Store. That’s enough solar to zero-out the Store’s energy bill. Instead of spending that money on utilities, the Store can save more money towards the construction of new homes.
By minimizing energy costs, the solar installation allows more of the store’s profits to be used form construction and program costs.

Beyond the financial benefits, the solar installation also reduces the organization’s dependence on fossil fuels, an important step towards energy independence for the community. Yakima’s low-wealth residents, like other frontline communities, are often hit first and worst by climate change impacts such as extreme heat waves and increased wildfire smoke.

“Our solar project is one small step toward a future where clean energy helps to close the wealth gap. Like housing, energy is a human right, and shouldn’t be treated as a commodity.” says Alex Tapia, Executive Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator at YVP Habitat for Humanity.

The solar installation will take place by the end of this year. Connecting frontline communities with the resources needed to make a transition to clean energy is an integral part of a resilient future for all.

You can learn more about Spark Northwest’s Access Solar program here and support our work by making a tax-deductible donation.

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