December 10, 2012

Small Organization is Doing Big Things for Affordable Housing

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People’s Self Help Housing (PSHH) is a HUD-funding non-profit housing organization in Lewis County, Kentucky that is doing some innovative things in energy-efficient home building.  Most notable is a development named Ever Green in the little town of Tollesboro.  Ever Green sits on 12 acres of land where PSHH launched a “construction laboratory” to experiment with home design and green development.

PSHH transformed what was once a cattle pasture into a “field of dreams fulfilled” for a few new homeowners.  By building attractive, energy-efficient homes, this project dispels the myth that energy efficient homes aren’t affordable.  In fact, the homes are affordable, in part, because they’re energy efficient.  The development has 22 lots targeted as affordable housing that are being sold to families with low to moderate incomes.  All the homes in the neighborhood are built to more rigorous environmental standards than typical homes and feature durable, energy-efficient construction, ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and other amenities.  As a result, the homes are at least 50 percent more efficient than traditional homes, saving Ever Green homeowners more than $1000 a year in utility costs.

The five homes in Ever Green are affordable because HUD HOME funding is covering the gap in financing between the sales price of the home and the mortgage that the homeowner can afford.  One of those homes was sold to Megan and Joshua Pollitt and their two young children.  The Pollitts are extremely proud of their new residence and are excited about the difference it is making in their lives.  “It’s so wonderful and it helps us save a lot.  Josh is so much closer to work now and our utility bill was just $38 last month.” said Megan Pollitt.

These are no “cookie cutter” homes, rather each new design is different so we can learn if various designs are actually more efficient!  Dave Kreher, Executive Director of PSHH, credits the efficiency of PSHH’s homes to a few key standards they are implementing in all the new homes, the biggest being air sealing of the building envelope and the quality of the insulation.  Also, while many builders are focused on energy-efficient traditional heat pumps, PSHH is experimenting with mini-split heat pumps that are even more energy efficient by eliminating leaky duct work and constantly adjusting temperature control to precisely meet the demands of the house.  Other features include low-flow water fixtures and solar panels.  PSHH, along with HUD’s support, is making a substantial difference in the lives of families in eastern Kentucky, while also showing that building green is affordable for everyone.

Krista Mills is the Field Office Director of HUD’s Louisville office.  David Railey, Senior Management Analyst, HUD’s Louisville Field office also contributed to this blog post.

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