"In 1965, my husband said we were moving to San Juan, and I burst into tears. I didn’t want to move to Puerto Rico."
That’s Pat Rishel, remembering the start of her life on San Juan Island; which only now, 47 years later, has led to ownership of her first island home, in the Salal neighborhood on Carter Ave. in Friday Harbor.
Pat ticks off the island locations where she has rented: the house on Guard St. where Island Gardens is now located; the old Gollywobbler (restaurant) property – before there was a Gollywobbler (she lived there while the Namu movie was being filmed here); the Geneste House on Harrison; a house on Tarabochia; the Wooden Shoe Farm; a house near the post office – to name a few.
She knew about the other, group build program (Homes for Islanders) (“a great program, but no way could I spend 30 hours a week working on construction while having a full time job at Browne’s”.) Then her friend, Mary Michael, (who lives in the Sun Rise neighborhood) told her to look into the San Juan Community Home Trust. Bingo!
Pat recently became the owner of a five year old, two-bedroom home on Carter Ave. right across the street from her son’s family. Her Salal home was previously owned by Judy McManus, who sold the home in order to move off island to be near her family on the mainland.
The noteworthy feature of all Community Land Trust housing is the permanent affordability that keeps it available to those with limited incomes throughout the life of the home. This means the Home Trust helps people buy homes – and also helps them resell those homes when they need to move on, as McManus did. She, like Pat, had full ownership of the home, but could not put it on the speculative market. Instead, the Home Trust arranged the sale to Pat Rishel and McManus earned enough appreciation to make a down payment on a market rate home on the mainland.
Rishel thinks this resale restriction is actually a bonus for the community. A kind of “paying it forward” for those who come along next. “I told my children that I can leave them this house, but they’d never get rich on it. You’ll get whatever I put into it and (using the resale formula) a little bit more.”
Meanwhile, Pat says she feels like she is already in heaven.
“People tell me I am glowing. I can’t even describe what it feels like to own this home. Look at this wonderful paint job that Judy did before; I won’t want to change it, but I could, of course. It’s perfect for me. And look at these amazing curtains I just got at the Thrift Store. I tell you, I’ll just be sitting here, doing something or other, and then I realize again that this is really mine – and that I don’t have to move again.” Eyes shining, she grins.