YouthBuild, First Story turn a house into a home


August 23, 2012

Third home built in Airway Heights for deserving families


Staff Reporter

Thanks to YouthBuild Spokane and First Story, the Bunting family has a new home in Airway Heights.

The home, on the 12400 block of First Avenue, is the culmination of six months of construction work from Hayden Homes and YouthBuild, a program associated with AmeriCorps in Spokane.

“It's a real honor to work with First Story,” AmeriCorps programs manager Mandy Edwards said. “They're so professional. It's a real chance for our students to see a real-world example.”

The Bunting family applied for the First Story home alongside nearly a dozen other families. First Story, based out of Bend, Ore., has built two other homes in Airway Heights. Families must apply for the home, going through an extensive review process.

Shon Rae, executive director with First Story, said the program factors in a family's needs and home ownership history in a grueling interview process. In the end, one family is chosen by the organization, providing a home for low-income families in need. Through the process, First Story sells the home to the family, which comes with a zero-down, zero-interest loan for 30 years. In time, if families move, First Story gets the first option on the home to put it back into the system, or lets the family sell it at a price affordable to another low-income family.

“They were in a position and were ready for home ownership,” she said. “They have a steady income and jobs, but were unable to save up for a down payment.”

Spokane's YouthBuild program provided much of the labor needed to construct the home, with the exception of certificated work like electrical and plumbing. Currently, 12 students are involved in the program, ranging from ages 16 to 24. Those students have typically dropped out of school, but come to YouthBuild to earn their GED and a trade. Half of their time is spent in the classroom while the other half is on-site working with professionals, helping the students formally learn their trade.

YouthBuild began in 2009, funded by a grant through the Department of Labor. It will compete once again for the grant later this fall.

The city of Airway Heights has partnered with First Story since 2006. At its Monday, Aug. 20 meeting, the Airway Heights City Council voted in favor to waive building permit and park impact fees for the home.

“This is a very competitive process that families go through,” Mayor Patrick Rushing said at the meeting. “Basically they have to tell their life story, and it has to be the most convincing life story that they approve.”

Rushing said he knew the home was strongly built at last week's dedication ceremony.

“It's a very well-built home, and the kids did a good job,” he said. “You can walk into a home and shut a door and see how well constructed it is, and this is a very well-constructed home. I'm very happy for them.”

The effect has helped many students get past barriers that, in the classroom, may impede their learning progress. Real-world experience has proven to be a defining part of their education, Edwards said.

“One of the students told me he struggled with education all of his life,” she said.

Interacting with professional crews outside of the classroom help hammer in the lesson, letting students excel with first-hand work.

“The students were able to see those skills in action,” Edwards said. “It's one thing to do a perfect drywall in a day, but then you see another person do it in 20 minutes.”

For more information on First Story, visit

James Eik can be reached at


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