ECHO Village: Volunteers work on finishing touches for homes

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The affordable housing in ECHO Village should be available within a few months.

Suzie Bell, who co-founded Eureka Christian Health Outreach (ECHO) with her husband, Dan, said volunteers have been working on the finishing touches for the homes. The project is meant to meet the community’s need for affordable housing.

“We’re putting in cabinets, laying floor, installing baseboards, putting in faucets,” she said. “We got electricity last week, and we are just beside ourselves with joy.”

Bell said the utilities should all be hooked up soon.

“We have our water line run to each house,” she said. “We’re ready for the city to set the meters and hook them up. The gas company is coming [this week] to hook up the gas, and then all of our infrastructure should be ready, which is a godsend.”

Bell said they will then have a grader come in to fix the roads and paths to the homes so that things are not mired down in mud.

“Things are cranking along,” she said. “There’s one house that is almost finished. We are so proud of the volunteers who have come in and done work. We have some tilers who have just done absolutely gorgeous work.”

She said she wanted to thank Island Airco, Inc., for hooking up the mini-split heating and air systems for the homes.

“They’re not charging us. They’re doing this for free,” she said. “And Tim Brown with Down Ohm Electric Inc., is doing a fabulous job coming in and getting us wired up and hooked up.”

Bell said there are several volunteers who have been coming regularly every week.

“We still need volunteers,” she said. “We encourage them to come because the conditions are much more favorable to work now that we have heat in the homes. Even the most unskilled person can come and help.”

Bell continued, “Today, I was doing massive cleanup, gathering up cardboard boxes and taking them to the recycling. That’s stuff that anybody can do.”

She said Tuesdays and Thursdays are the major workdays, but volunteers are working on site from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Saturday.

“All they have to do is show up,” Bell said. “We’ll find something for them to work on. I always provide snacks. Now we have an actual electrical outlet, so we have a plug-in coffee pot. If they’ve been procrastinating, this is the time.”

She said they are hoping to have the homes available for people to move into by mid-May or June.

“We will have a big ribbon-cutting when it’s all done,” Bell said. “When you consider that over 90 percent of this is done by volunteers, it’s pretty darn good. It’s been a lot of hard work.”

While it would have been faster if they had paid someone to build the homes, Bell said the volunteer labor has saved on expenses and enabled them to expand the project some.

“We’re under budget enough that we’re going to break ground on two more houses in May,” Bell said. “Within what we borrowed, we have the funds to do it.”

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