MultiCare donation to Habitat for Humanity is win-win for affordable housing

Tara Bayudan, a MultiCare volunteer, shovels out debris from the property at 407 S. M St. in Tacoma. Photo by Andrew Fickes

Tacoma-Pierce County Habitat for Humanity and MultiCare Health System are taking an innovative approach to building affordable housing for low-income families.

MultiCare has decided to donate four single-family houses on property near Tacoma General Hospital to the Tacoma-Pierce County chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a long-time partner of the health organization. The four properties – purchased years ago for the purposes of making room for additional facilities – are deemed no longer valuable, but to Habitat for Humanity the historic homes are significantly valuable to fulfilling its mission of serving low-income families.

Habitat for Humanity is on the fast-track to renovate each of the homes, and put each of them on the market. Proceeds from the sale will support the construction of an 11-single-family home Habitat for Humanity development planned for the Midland area, with construction scheduled for 2019. If all goes as planned, the first renovated property – this one located at 417 S. M St. – will hit the market sometime in May, according to Maureen Fife, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity.

Fife said the nonprofit is incredibly grateful for MultiCare’s gift.

“It will be a gift that launches a neighborhood, and we’re excited about it,” she said.

After a heavy snowfall the night before, a crew of volunteers on Thursday, Feb. 22 helped with the beginning stages of home renovation. Fife said the property at 417 S. M St. is a two-story with four bedrooms and one bath built in 1910. Led by Mike Taggart, Habitat’s site manager, renovations will include taking out a bedroom on the upper level to create a master suite with a private bath. Taggart’s team will also install new plumbing, electrical, new windows, and a new heat-pump system. An open-concept kitchen will be created and the house’s original hardwood floors will be retained.

“We plan to (retain) as much of the original house as we can,” Fife said. “This will be a great uplift for the neighborhood.”

Steve Crawford, a retired industrial worker, takes out the exterior of the bathroom with a crowbar in the house at 407 S. M St. in Tacoma. Photo by Andrew Fickes

Three people on the volunteer crew on Thursday are MultiCare staff. Tara Bayudan, a post-surgical certified nursing assistant at MultiCare’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, was helping with the removal of ceiling beams and the clearing out of cabinets and debris from the property at 407 S. M St.

“It’s nice giving back to the community,” said Bayudan, who once volunteered for the Red Cross in her home country of the Philippines before joining MultiCare in January 2017. “I used to help my dad at my home in the Philippines. He is a handyman.”

MultiCare has been a supporter of Habitat with volunteers since 2012. Good Samaritan has provided volunteers since 2013. MultiCare and Good Samaritan collectively average three volunteer days per year and roughly 30-35 people annually.

Meanwhile, Steve Crawford, a retired industrial worker, said the opportunity to volunteer for Habitat is a satisfying return to his roots. During high school, Crawford discovered a passion for home construction as a laborer in a framing crew. The opportunity Habitat provides him, he said, is unmatched.

“I love this work. It’s great!” he said. “I love the philosophy behind it.”

After the house at 417 South M Street goes on the market in May, Fife said the other three properties, including one at 1216 South 4th Street and one at 1218 South 4th Street, will soon follow.

Fife said this spring will be an opportune time to enter the housing market with these newly renovated offerings.

“We want to take advantage of when people are really looking,” she said.

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