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Hands-on learning about the housing industry

Some time ago, I was employed as a cost estimator for a large local siding company. We installed siding on hundreds of single-family new homes and several multi-family buildings throughout Puget Sound every year. I would create estimates and order packages on between 25-50 homes each week.

That experience provided me a view of the various groups working together to get houses built. It isn’t extremely complicated yet at the same time it isn’t simple. The housing industry is massive and it can take a while for changes to be made.

More recently I had the opportunity to participate in work study placements through the Center for Community-Based Learning and Action at The Evergreen State College. During this time, I’ve gotten an education on the housing situation in Thurston County from a few different perspectives.

First, tiny homes at Quixote Village

I was at Quixote Village during the 2021-2022 school year. It was a great experience as I watched the arrival of new residents and observed the way they changed and improved their lives. From this experience I learned how important it is for the local community to be involved in improving the quality of life in the community.

I learned that change doesn’t take place overnight. Change takes time and it can start with a small group of dedicated people, which can grow in numbers as awareness and interest develops.

Next, a housing land trust

My current work study placement at Thurston Housing Land Trust (THLT) is providing me experience with a local non-profit organization dedicated to developing solutions for generating affordable housing for low-to-moderate income households.

Thurston Housing Land Trust has been around for several years. However, they received their non-profit designation in 2018. THLT is using the community land trust model to provide the framework for affordable housing which will be available from generation to generation.

The land trust purchases properties that they then sell to a member of the community. The land trust maintains ownership of the land while the family takes ownership of the house. This reduces costs and creates a process which can provide affordable housing as long as the trust is operating. The homeowner and trust abides by a set of rules which governs the operation of the trust and some aspects of the property.

Right now, THLT is laying the groundwork to connect their first property with a family. This has been in the works for some time and everyone at THLT is working hard to develop more housing opportunities in the near future.

A chance to work with purpose in your community

There are many opportunities to participate in our community through work study placements and internships. Sometimes it can be difficult to know where or how to start. You could start by looking at different organizations that relate to your personal interests and then contact an organization.

Find out more

Consider learning about something that is new or unexpected. In any case, it can be fulfilling to work with community members towards a goal or an ideal. For myself, it has been exciting to be a part of THLT as it begins to move forward to meet the needs of the community.

To learn more about what Thurston Housing Land Trust is doing in our community, go to or contact the Center for Community-Based Learning and Action at the Evergreen State College.

Chase Patton is a student at The Evergreen State College. He also has helped WIP on occasion with graphics that accompany articles.

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