The buildings taking shape on 2nd Street on the north side of Coeur d’Alene might look like any other multi-family housing development in Kootenai County, but the homes slated for this property aren’t like the others.

For starters, they’re affordable.

As Kootenai County’s housing prices have climbed, putting homeownership out of reach for many low-income families, Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho has changed tact. Instead of building single-family homes, the nonprofit is focusing its efforts on constructing energy-efficient condominium-style homes. The complex on 2nd Street will provide homes for 21 families.

“Many families are spending more than half of their income on housing and those who don’t own their own homes are struggling to afford rising rental costs,” said James Casper, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho.

Kootenai County residents have seen a 160 percent increase in average house prices since 2016 and approximately 80 percent of county households can’t afford to buy a home according to a 2023 housing availability and affordability study conducted by the University of Idaho.

“There’s no doubt our community is facing an affordable housing crisis,” Casper said.

The nonprofit’s upcoming Hearts for Homes 15th Annual Sweethearts Ball will support Habitat’s efforts to provide affordable homes and critical home repairs for low-income families throughout the county. The February 9 event at The Best Western Plus Coeur d’Alene Inn kicks off at 5 p.m. with a cocktail hour and silent auction, followed by a surf and turf buffet, live auction and music and dancing.

Tickets are $80 per person and are on sale now. Event sponsorships are also available.

Speakers for the event include MyKenzie Rouw, a 20-year-old lifelong Coeur d’Alene resident working toward homeownership through Habitat’s housing program.

“Being part of a program that is so immensely educational and helping me grow as a person is more than I ever expected,” she said.

In anticipation of moving into one of the nonprofits newly constructed condo-style homes, Rouw attended a 9-week financial education course and is working to complete Habitat’s requirement to provide 250 hours of sweat equity. For Rouw, that looks like volunteering at the construction site and at Habitat’s ReStore and babysitting for another family in the housing program.

“Habitat provides a hand up, not a handout,” Casper said. “The skills and knowledge that our homeowners gain through volunteering and our financial literacy classes help set these new homeowners up for long-term success.”

About half of the units Habitat is building on 2nd Street are still available. Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho is accepting applications from individuals and families interested in becoming homeowners through Habitat.

“Many people are surprised to find out they qualify for our homeownership program,” said Amy Billings, family navigator for Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho. As far as income is concerned, Habitat for Humanity accepts applications from those making between 30 and 80 percent of the county’s median income.

To qualify, an applicant’s current housing must be inadequate, unsafe, unaffordable or unhealthy. Candidates must also have satisfactory credit, stable income, the ability to pay a monthly mortgage, and be willing to complete up to 250 hours of sweat equity and financial literacy classes.

An income chart and additional information on the housing program are available at

February’s Heart for Homes fundraiser is the nonprofit’s single-largest fundraiser of the year. Though it has been known as the Sweethearts Ball over the years, it’s not just an event for couples.

“This is an event for anyone who has a heart for our community and wants to help provide stable and secure housing for our neighbors who need it most,” Casper said. “We don’t just build homes. We’re building hope.”

For tickets and event information visit

Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho helps homeowners achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better home for themselves and their families.