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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Homeowner Linette Harms and Art Samples, with Utah Crime Scene Cleaners, discuss work on the meth house that Harms and her family were living in for a month before discovering that it was contaminated with methamphetamine in West Valley City on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012. Habitat for Humanity and Utah Crime Scene Cleaners are helping to make the house safe to live in again.
This used to be the carport. It used to be carpeted. It used to have drywall. Now, you're looking at studs. —Linnette Harms

WEST VALLEY CITY — A West Valley couple who had to evacuate their newly purchased home after learning that it was contaminated with methamphetamine is now getting help from Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity.

The couple's story was featured in a Deseret News story in October.

In August, Josh Pace and Linnette Harms purchased the foreclosed home in a quiet neighborhood in West Valley City. A few weeks after moving in, Harms became ill with upper respiratory problems. That's when a neighbor told them that the residence had been a former meth house.

"This used to be the carport. It used to be carpeted. It used to have drywall. Now, you're looking at studs," Harms said Monday, peeking through the window of her home that she is not able to enter without a hazardous materials suit.

Today, thanks to the Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity, the house is being gutted, which is progress considering that the couple had little money to remediate and refurbish the home once they learned of its sordid past.

"This is a critical care issue that is in our community right now," said Ed Blake, the executive director of the nonprofit. "Habitat for Humanity is seen as someone who can come in and partner with the community and partner with donors and resolve some of the issues like the meth house behind me."

After seeing the news report, Blake contacted the West Valley couple to see how Habitat for Humanity could help. The nonprofit is now funding part of the estimated $8,400 cost of remediation and will later help refurbish the home.

"What we need to understand as a community is that we're all victims of these meth homes. There are over 200 in Salt Lake County right now that are sitting vacant, taped up, they can't move forward. They need to be remediated. They need to have families back in them again," Blake said.

He credits Habitat for Humanity's "Check the Box" initiative on Utah's state income tax forms that allows Utahns to donate to causes such as this.

"The initiative is on your tax form each year and you check that box off," he said. "That money rewards the neighborhood and community by cleaning up homes just like we're doing today."

Harms is simply thankful the group was willing to help after she tried every avenue to raise funds to clean up the house she desperately wishes to make a home. The couple and their four children plan on moving into the home in the beginning of March.

"I'm anxious and excited to move in," she said. "The kids won't be sick and I won't be sick."

email: lprichard@desnews.com