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"Housing is out there, so good luck"

"Life's little coincidences.Just as local property owners are getting over thewallop of this week's reassessment notices - on Bainbridge Island, top-dollar sales have driven valuations up an average of 15 percent over last year - we slide right into National Home Ownership Week, June 3-10.Alas, with home prices skyrocketing here, pride of ownership is decreasingly likely for many of us, at least if we hope to stay in this community. We find ourselves wondering if our neighbors will, before too long, be comprised exclusively of nouveau-riche, dot.com zillionaires - that is, before our little one-bedroom cottage is plowed under to make way for another new mansion. Hello, Suquamish?While we have no particular remedy for the market, we do want to alert readers to the Finding Your Way Home Fair, sponsored by the Kitsap Housing Coalition and slated for 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 10 at Kitsap Mall. True, you'll have to drive to Silverdale, but if you're finding yourself increasingly priced off the island, you might find it worth the trip (even without the convenience of the second bridge). Most people have a dream of owning their own home, Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Manager Julie Graves told us, through a mutual pal. The trouble is, most people don't have the savings in the bank to make the downpayment. And in markets like Bainbridge Island, with housing prices rising as fast as they are, the gap is getting bigger and bigger between what the cost of a home and how much people can afford.We try to bridge that gap through programs like self-help housing, downpayment assistance programs and first time homebuyer classes.On tap for next Saturday's event are downpayment assistance programs; programs offering low-interest loans to low-income residents for necessary home repairs; first-time homebuyer classes, and loans at lower-than-market interest rates or mortgage interest credits; weatherization programs; and self-help housing.For those not yet ready to buy a house, advisors will be on hand to help with transitional housing for homeless and victims of domestic violence, subsidized rentals and (our favorite) credit repair.As we reported recently, the average home sale price on Bainbridge was more than over $412,000 in the first quarter of this year. But we're proud that coalition members, including the city and other local agencies, are working to maintain some semblance of economic diversity in this community. The Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority has an exciting affordable-home development in the works in Fort Ward, while the Bainbridge Island Housing Resources Board has several Winslow area projects going.You can find out more. If you want to buy a Bainbridge Island home - but you're still biding your time until your IPO windfall - you might want to visit the fair."

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