WSU partners with Habitat to build ‘Tri-Cities Coug house’

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

Habitat-logo-webRICHLAND, Wash. – Students, employees and alumni of Washington State University Tri-Cities will help build a home for low-income families starting in September after the campus signed a partnership agreement with Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity on Thursday.

“This is an effort to create a collaborative and formalized service learning and community engagement process that gets everyone at WSU Tri-Cities involved,” said Monika Moo-Young, chair of the Cougs in the Community service program at the campus.

The “Tri-Cities Coug House” will be one of 24 themed homes constructed as part of Habitat’s Whitehouse Addition project in Pasco, Wash. Completion is anticipated for April.

Hands-on learning

Keith Moo-Young, left, talks with Michael Ballard, WSU Tri-Cities student senator for engineering and architecture, about the “Tri-Cities Coug House.”

Students will be involved in nearly every aspect of the project – from planning to construction to project management – said Keith Moo-Young, WSU Tri-Cities chancellor. They will make a difference in their local community while building essential skills they can use in their careers.

Michael Ballard, student senator for engineering and architecture, said the project fills a need for hands-on opportunities in the construction sector for engineering students.

“There is a huge divide between the engineering process and the build process,” he said. “Many engineers don’t receive that hands-on construction experience before they go out and get their first job. Bridging that divide will be very beneficial for students.”

Building community

“Everything we do on this campus integrates into three tenets: dynamic student engagement, dynamic research experience and dynamic community engagement,” Keith Moo-Young said. “What this partnership does is give us the ability to impact our community while building our community.”

Habitat’s Rick Jansons, left, and WSU Tri-Cities Keith Moo-Young talk during the signing ceremony Thursday at WSU Tri-Cities.

“The caring you show is reflected back,” said Rick Jansons, executive director for Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity. “Statistics show that children in stable homes perform much better in school. You’re changing the lives in this community, which is breaking the cycle of poverty.”

Homes built by Habitat for Humanity are approximately 1,100 square feet and feature three to four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

To sign up for volunteer opportunities on the project through Cougs in the Community, visit

History of involvement

Keith Moo-Young said WSU Tri-Cities will work with its academic programs to dedicate at least one day each toward the project. There will be multiple opportunities for alumni and community members to get involved.

Monika Moo-Young said Cougs in the Community has partnered with Habitat for its signature volunteer event the last two years and WSU Tri-Cities students have organized various student groups to volunteer with the organization.

Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity, based in Richland, works with low-income families to build decent, affordable homes in the community. Families qualify for homes based on need, the ability to pay a no-interest mortgage and by contributing a minimum of 500 “sweat equity” hours during construction. Since 1994, the organization has completed 90 new homes.


Rick Jansons, Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity executive director, 509-943-5555,
Lisa Godwin, Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity development director, 509-943-5555 ext. 206,
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,