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Portlanders turn to nonprofits for affordable building materials

While the rising cost of building materials is hurting certain nonprofits, some are also helping people save money on supplies while getting help in return.

PORTLAND, Oregon — As increased demand and supply chain disruptions continue to impact the price of building materials, those rising costs are starting to impact some nonprofit organizations. Now some of those nonprofits are actually helping people save money on building supplies and in return, getting a big hand.

One of those organizations is Habitat for Humanity. The nonprofit helps families in need purchase new, affordable homes which they help build themselves, alongside volunteers. 

The nonprofit’s ReStore locations in the Portland metro area sell donated, recycled building materials, appliances and household goods to the public at a deep discount. Money earned goes toward building homes.

“The price of building materials is out of control right now,” said Steve Messinetti, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Portland region. He's acutely aware of that increase — it means homes are costing the nonprofit between $30,000 and $50,000 more to build. Right now they have just over 100 homes under construction for local families.

“We set their mortgages up so that their payment is no more than 30% of their income,” said Messinetti. “So in this case, even though the homes are costing us more to build, Habitat will be absorbing those costs.”

RELATED: Supply, demand and COVID-19: The price of lumber has nearly quadrupled in the last year

Messinetti hopes increased fundraising efforts will help offset those added expenses. He’s also encouraged by record sales over the past two months at Habitat’s ReStore locations.

Another nonprofit offering discounted building supplies is the ReBuilding Center on North Mississippi Avenue. Since 1997 the nonprofit has helped keep landfills clear of reusable building materials such as doors, windows and plumbing fixtures, while making them affordable to customers. Prices are about half the cost of new materials. Money earned supports the ReBuilding Center’s workforce programs and community education efforts including home repair classes.

“Despite the fact that we could raise our prices because prices are going up everywhere, we don't because we're a nonprofit organization,” said Jackie Kirouac-Fram, executive director of the ReBuilding Center. “We are committed to making our materials as affordable and accessible as possible.”

RELATED: Housing market hits 'fever pitch,' prices likely to increase more

The ReBuilding Center gets lumber donations, but Kirouac-Fram said they never keep it in stock for long.

“It flies out the door,” she said, adding that they’re looking for volunteers to pull nails out of salvaged lumber so it's ready to resell.

“People are hungry for lower-priced lumber.”

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