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Plans for “Community of Hope” in Idaho Falls continue

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Idaho could soon get its first cooperative housing development in an area nicknamed "The Community of Hope," developed by Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that strives to build safe places for people to live in, says "The Community of Hope" will ultimately be called "Petersen Place," after the man who sold them the land for the project. It is also the largest project they have undertaken in Idaho Falls.

Cooperative housing is relatively new and is a response to the rising cost of housing in the area. Besides providing low-income families with a place to live, they'll also have a chance to build equity through renting.

Habitat owns the property, but those who live in the planned small homes and duplexes will own a share in the community.

“Habitat writes our own mortgages," explains Karen Lansing, Executive Director of Idaho Falls Habitat for Humanity. "So, our current mortgages help raise money to build additional homes. The payback is at a zero-interest loan, and we keep the payments 30% of the family's monthly income. So we don't make any money off of our homes. But it is a consistent income that we have.”

The program selects candidates on factors such as income parameters and needs.

Those selected must also be willing to work with Habitat for Humanity to help pay it forward. This includes helping build their own home. Habitat for Humanity requires 300 hours of service, or “sweat equity,” as a part of the program. 

"If you live in a Habitat home and you're making a monthly payment, your monthly payment contributes, you're paying forward. You're helping us build more homes with that funding that's coming in," Lansing added.

Habitat for Humanity appeared in front of Idaho Falls City Planning and Zoning for a public hearing June 4. The council decided unanimously to move the project forward.

The Idaho Falls City Council will need to give its approval. Once approved, construction can begin.

A total of 72 units are planned for the 11.5-acre space. The original home on the property will be repurposed into a community center.

“Let's get the word out,” Lansing encourages, “we're going to need volunteers to make this happen. We're going to need community support. This is a big project, and it takes a community to do this. ”

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Emma Valentine


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