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US Startup Makes Building Materials Out of Fast-Growing Grasses to Capture More Carbon Than Trees

in Enviroment 122 views

A startup looking to find better ways to mass-produce lumber for construction has swapped trees for grass.

It turns out that with sophisticated laminating and molding machines, the fibers of certain grass species can be just as strong as wood, but lighter, and orders of magnitude faster to produce.

Entrepreneur Josh Dorfman founded Plantd with two former SpaceX engineers. Their flagship product is a seemingly-regular pressed wood panel for homebuilding, but one that’s made from a fast-growing species of grass which nevertheless can absorb 30 tons of carbon dioxide via photosynthesis throughout its lifetime.

Capable of being harvested three times in a season, rather than once in 20 years as in the case with pine wood, the potential is there to drastically lower the cost of lumber for homebuilding, and increase the carbon-capture potential of the timber industry.

“We see the greatest opportunity to lock away the most carbon when we make a superior product than what exists today,” Dorfman told Fast Company. “And do it in a way where that end customer can still build exactly the same way… they don’t have to change in any respect.”

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Watertown’s Main Avenue shelter to stay open, with no closing date in view

in Housing 89 views

WATERTOWN — The temporary shelter on Watertown’s Main Avenue will likely stay open indefinitely as officials continue to search for solutions to the county’s housing shortage.

Legislator Anthony J. Doldo, who represents the northwest part of the city where the shelter is and chairs the county’s Health and Human Services Committee, said Tuesday that there are no immediate plans to close the shelter.

Officials last week said the plan was to start closing the temporary shelter this week, once the Christmas weekend storm was over and temperatures began to rise again. But Mr. Doldo said that’s likely not possible, with more than 20 people still using the shelter on a daily basis.

“We’re working on a plan here,” he said. “Whether it stays open longer or doesn’t, there are a lot of factors here, and that’s the problem.”

Mr. Doldo said there’s some difference of opinion among county officials and policymakers on how to address homelessness and housing insecurity.

He is unwilling to close down the shelter until a comparable solution has been found for its residents.

“Whether it’s now or next week or next year, whenever it is, it’s a moving target,” he said. “We’re allowing services to communicate with people, move them on to other things.”

And people have been helped. One of the residents interviewed by the Times when the shelter first opened has been placed at the High Street apartment complex that recently reopened, as have many other people who stayed at the shelter when it first opened mid-November after a winter storm hit the north country. Many people are in contact with local agencies and nonprofit groups to connect with services.

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Tiny Home Village for Salt Lake City‘s Homeless Gets Green Light for 430 Units

in Housing 151 views

Taking the lead to fight the homelessness epidemic in America, the Salt Lake City council has moved forward with a plan to lease 8 acres of city land to build a village of tiny homes.

Described as “recovery housing,” the 430 units would provide an additional transition between total homelessness and total stability.

The plan was introduced in April of 2021, and has taken awhile to gain traction. On Tuesday, the city council listened to concerns from the community about the use of city resources.

Costing $13.8 million, the village was dreamt up by The Other Side Academy, which provides training and teaches pro-social, vocational, and life skills, allowing attendees to emerge with a healthy life on “the other side” of criminal detention, substance abuse, or homelessness.

But all are looking to change the direction of their lives.

The SLC council voted unanimously, 7-0, in favor of the project, which is envisioned to be funded largely by contributions and donations rather than public money.

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New ‘Hometown Heroes Housing Program’ Helps Florida Teachers and First Responders Buy Their First Home

in Housing 169 views

A statewide program launching on June 1 will help Florida residents in over 50 critical professions, including first responders and teachers, to purchase their first home.

The $100 million Hometown Heroes Housing Program will be available to law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare employees, and active military or veterans.

The program provides assistance with down payments, closing costs, and a lower mortgage rate to first-time, income-qualified homebuyers to purchase a home in the community where they work.

Borrowers can receive up to 5% of the loan amount—up to $25,000—in assistance. Limits on income and the price of the house are determined by the specific county.

The program will expand Florida’s existing housing programs to reach critical workers and those who have served our country. Governor Ron DeSantis also intends to expand the total earmarked by the Legislature in the upcoming budget to $363 million appropriated for affordable and workforce housing—the highest total in 15 years.

“Our hometown heroes are the backbone of Florida communities and making sure that they can afford to be homeowners is a great way to give back to them and support the future of the American Dream,” said DeSantis.

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Watertown facility for homeless people will open on Pine Street

in Local News 314 views

WATERTOWN — Transitional Living Services is turning the former Angel’s Inn adult home on Pine Street into a facility for homeless people.

Transitional Living Services of New York, a Watertown-based provider of housing and mental health services since 1979, will provide emergency housing for the homeless in the former adult home at 518 Pine St.

Transitional Living is partnering with the Jefferson County Department of Social Services and a private developer, JC Capital Funding LLC, Colorado Springs, Colo., to work on the 18-unit, single-room-occupancy facility.

The City Council learned about the project after receiving a letter last week from Transitional Living Executive Director Maureen P. Cean, who requested that the city provide $15,000 from the city’s Community Development Block Grant program.

In a 3-2 vote on Monday night, the council informally agreed to provide the $15,000 gap funding for the project through the CDBG program.

But Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith was joined by Councilwoman Sarah V. Compo Pierce in opposing providing the funding, saying that they wanted to wait to see what the community thought about it first.

“This is the first I’m hearing about it,” Mayor Smith said, adding that he wanted to know whether Ms. Cean has approached neighbors to see what they think about the facility.

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Housing vulnerable populations: 60 future housing units to be built from partnership between three local agencies

in Local News 314 views

WATERTOWN — Transitional Living Services of Northern New York will receive $2.5 million in funds from the state in an effort to provide better services and more housing opportunities for the area’s homeless population.

Recent events, including a fire at the Rainbow Motel in Pamelia and the closing of the Relax Inn on Route 11 in the town of Watertown and 661 Factory St. Inn & Lodging in Watertown, have resulted in even fewer housing options for vulnerable populations.

In hopes of addressing this problem, 60 new housing units will be constructed to serve low-income individuals and those with mental illnesses or substance use issues.

“Having shelter is the most basic human need — Where are you going to lay your head at night? Where will you get your next meal from? These are the most basic things that you need to be able to live your life,” said Maureen Cean, executive director of Transitional Living Services. “Not having a stable home to live in impacts a person’s whole life, and if we don’t provide our citizens with at least that most basic need, then they will forever remain economically disadvantaged.”

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People Inc. opens new affordable housing with disability services on Buffalo’s East Side

in People 428 views

BUFFALO, N.Y. — People Inc. celebrated the opening of a new mixed-income affordable housing apartment complex on Buffalo’s East Side Monday.

Located at 1166 Jefferson Avenue, the two-building complex has 90 units, 16 of which offer support services from People Inc. for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities who live independently.

“When I heard I got the apartment, I knew that the independent life I deserved was in reach,” said Shanell Davis, a resident who relies on a wheelchair. “After moving into the apartment, I finally have the life that I always wanted. I love the fact that I can come and go as I please without having to worry about the barriers of stairs.”

There are 71 one-bedroom apartments and 19 two-bedroom apartments. There will also be 16,000-square feet of ground floor commercial space.

The $31 million project was funded by the NYS Homes and Community Renewal, which is the state’s affordable housing agency, NYS Housing Finance Agency JP Morgan Chase Bank, Raymond James Tax Credit Funds, City of Buffalo HOME Program, NYS Empire State Development, NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, and NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.

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