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Spokane Foundation Begins Fundraising To Build Homes In Malden, Pine City

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The work of rebuilding the burned eastern Washington towns of Malden and Pine City may soon begin.

The Innovia Foundation has begun a campaign to raise money to build four new houses for residents.

People in the two Whitman County towns have been waiting nearly three months for the federal government to respond to their application for disaster aid. That would provide them with grants and loans that allow them to rebuild.

In the meantime, the Innovia Foundation and its executive director, Shelly O’Quinn, have adopted them for the Christmas season.

“We were able to provide meals for each of the families. Over and over again we heard the community, let us know what more we can do," she said.

She says the Western Anabaptist Mission Service in western Montana offered to send some of its members to the two towns to build homes.

“The challenge is they’ll provide the labor, but it costs about $75,000 in materials, which no one has laying around. So we’ve decided that we would partner with the community and put it out there and raise $300,000 and get the first four homes built," O'Quinn said.

Scott Hokonson, who is overseeing the long-term recovery effort in Malden and Pine City, says it’s good news at a time when residents feel ignored by their government.

“We need houses. We’re about 100 houses down. Each day this continues of not hearing a FEMA designation, at least a yes or a no, we have to create our own agencies, our own social service agencies, our own construction companies," he said.

He’s encouraged that the greater eastern Washington community is pulling together to help its neighbors. Even as the fundraising, and eventually the construction, begin, there’s one other challenge, determining which of the families will be the recipients of the new homes. He says leaders of the recovery effort are considering their options.

“Something of the sweat equity where you bring something to the table, whatever you can, whatever your means are, and work making the community better. There could be some help of financing and possibly low- or zero-interest loans," Hokonson said.

He says his committee is also looking at how it can help the owners of the new homes pay their home insurance, since many of the houses that burned did not have it.

The Innovia Foundation is now accepting donations at its website. It’s hoping it can raise enough to get construction started as early as next month.