East Jefferson Habitat previews Mason Street neighborhood

By Kirk Boxleitner
Posted 1/31/24



Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County addressed the public on Jan. 18 at the Jefferson County Library, which borders Habitat’s planned Mason Street development.

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East Jefferson Habitat previews Mason Street neighborhood




Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County addressed the public on Jan. 18 at the Jefferson County Library, which borders Habitat’s planned Mason Street development.

Jamie Maciejewski, East Jefferson Habitat’s executive director, said local community members provided the vision to start planning a new neighborhood in Port Hadlock-Irondale two years ago. Community meetings ensued immediately after the property’s purchase in May 2022.

According to Maciejewski, the sewer system makes it possible to build 120-205 homes at the site, while the county library, a primary school, and transit access are right next door.

Community members want the neighborhood to be broadly affordable, even to those who might not qualify for traditional affordable housing. They also want walkable green spaces and community gathering places for all-ages recreation.

Having met with dozens of local groups and hundreds of individuals, Maciejewski cited their agreement that a lack of housing for the local workforce hurts everyone. Workers who can’t find local housing lead to businesses that can’t expand, or can’t even remain open for regular hours, she said, adding that emergency personnel being given variances to live outside the county makes everyone more vulnerable during major emergencies.

Without young families, Maciejewski sees school enrollment impacted, just as a lack of housing increases housing costs for everyone.

Local donors committed $4 million to Mason Street, to which the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners committed an additional $580,000, and the formal process to develop a master plan launched in August 2023. The plan will direct what will be built, and how, as well as who can build it, how it gets financed, and what the timeline should be.

“We expect to have the completed master plan in the spring, and to begin permitting later this year, with the intention that infrastructure construction will begin in 2025, with first homes occupied in 2027,” Maciejewski said.

This master plan reflects the teamwork of not only East Jefferson Habitat members and veteran housing industry professionals, but also the Seattle-based Schemata Workshop and the Cap Ex Advisory Group of Baltimore, whom Maciejewski said share Habitat’s commitment to making Mason Street homes permanently affordable to residents.

The plan lays out guidelines for financing construction while the project is being built. Based on market demand, the project features a proposed balance between owned and rented homes, as well as between different architectural configurations.

Maciejewski said that Mason Street, as a prospective mixed-income community, will stand out by not including a single market-rate home — as well as by making all its homes affordable upon resale well into the future. To make the new neighborhood affordable, it must be dense, with small footprints for its homes, Maciejewski asserted.

Habitat has opted for attached homes, with smaller home and yard sizes, limited numbers of garages, and incentivizing of shared amenities such as bike storage, trash receptacles, and electric vehicle chargers.

Maciejewski promised the housing structures have been field-tested to ensure they’re properly sound-insulated for resident quality of life, while their energy efficiency and use of less lumber also means “this will be an environmentally sustainable development.”

In order to fit into the rural Port Hadlock community, that housing density will avoid feeling urban by opting for roughly 150 homes, and retaining the path and woods along the south side to help protect Chimacum Creek.

To make the new neighborhood “family-friendly,” Maciejewski said it would minimize motor vehicle traffic by limiting internal streets to allow children to ride their bicycles more safely. Lower fences would foster “neighborly interactions,” she added.

In another effort toward environmental sustainability, Maciejewski noted that Mason Street homes will be oriented to take advantage of passive solar gain.

She said Mason Street will seek to meet the needs of Habitat’s partner organizations by affording the Northwest School of Wooden Boat-Building with space for student housing, Olympic Neighbors will receive space for adult family homes for intellectually and developmentally-disabled adults. Employers such as Jefferson Healthcare, the Chimacum School District, and Fort Worden Hospitality will also gain opportunities for employee rental housing.

To learn more, visit www.habitatejc.org/mason-street.