New Beginnings

Nonprofit First Story Opens Doors for First-Time Home Buyers

When he founded the nonprofit First Story in 1998, Hayden Watson, Chairman of Hayden Homes, had a vision to support communities across the Pacific Northwest. Fast forward to 2022, where today, First Story celebrates its 100th homeowner. “It’s a big deal,” says Executive Director Claire Duncan. “That’s a hundred families who have achieved the dream of home ownership who never would’ve had the opportunity without First Story.” The mission of First Story is to promote giving and inspire communities through the creation of homeownership opportunities and financial support. The nonprofit partners with Hayden Homes to construct homes in their communities which are then sold through First Story's loan program. This unique approach provides move-in ready homes to qualified applicants who are at or below 80% area median income. 

By providing affordable home loans, Duncan explains, First Story is addressing a critical housing shortage and finding solutions to make cities like Bend more inclusive and affordable for everyone. “There are families in Central Oregon who are working here, whose kids are attending school here, and who are volunteering in the community, but they can’t afford to live here,” she says. “These people are the heartbeat of our community. They are our teachers, nurses and entrepreneurs—they’re an integral part of our communities.”

In addition to assisting families with home ownership, First Story often teams up with other nonprofits, such as NeighborImpact’s Home Source program, to educate prospective homebuyers about the responsibility of owning a home. They utilize Central Oregon’s What If We Could crowdsourcing platform to connect the local community to both monetary and volunteer needs. First Story has also given more than $2 million to other charities serving the Pacific Northwest. “We’re able to deliver on our vision while also helping other nonprofits deliver on theirs,” Duncan explains.

For many, she adds, owning a home can end the cycle of multigenerational poverty, so it’s not just changing one family—it’s changing families for generations. For them, First Story allows a new chapter of life to begin. 

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