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Texas Food Bank Builds Housing for the People Who Need Their Food–Right Next Door

in Business 299 views

A food bank in a fast-growing Texas community is building affordable housing next to its bank, to ensure people who have to juggle food and rent are able to with minimal effort.

The 51-unit apartment complex hasn’t gone up yet, but planning has begun for facilities that would temporarily house people struggling to afford the cost of living while undertaking job training or studies.

30 minutes outside San Antonio lies one of the fastest-growing towns in the US: New Braunfels.

Here, homelessness is growing due to an exploding population. The New Braunfels branch of the San Antonio food bank wondered if they could do more than just cover the cost of food.

“What we know about a food insecure household is that rent eats first in every household budget,” says Eric Cooper, president and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank.

“If we can provide food, that in some ways allows a family to cost-shift their dollars to stay housed. For food banks across the country, hundreds of millions of dollars in the value of food is offsetting rent payments going to landlords.”

Cooper told Adele Peters of Fast Company that despite believing they could do more, the board of directors of the food bank was worried about ‘mission creep’—trying to do too much and ending up doing several things poorly.

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First of five deteriorated homes city sold to developers is fully renovated, goes on market

in Real Estate 82 views

Michael A. Lumbis remembered last April when he stepped on an old bottle of sunscreen and other trash that covered much of a floor in a deteriorated house at 244 N. Rutland St.

The city’s planning director also recalled the house had old drafty windows, outdated paneling, a newspaper from 1997 on the floor and a concern that an animal might come scurrying out from the garbage. One did — a cat, which startled him.

That century-old house looks totally different now.

On Tuesday, Lumbis and senior planner Jennifer Voss took their first tour of the single-family house since it underwent a total renovation.

“It looks fabulous,” he said.

It was one of five homes that the city sold to developers and contractors to fix up. Before buying them, they had to explain their plans for the properties.

The 4-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath Rutland Street house is the first of five that has been completed.

During the tour, Dave Heinisch — a landlord who has bought, renovated and resold 20 houses in and around Watertown over the past 20 years — showed off the many amenities that he incorporated into the renovation to get exactly what he wanted.

“I want to get that ‘wow,'” he said.

That’s why Heinisch, who owns H20Town24/7properties LLC, installed custom molding in each of the rooms, a quartz kitchen counter, top quality appliances and other features, he said.

Starting in June, his team of contractors put in a lot of work — from top to bottom — into the house.

He’s got it listed at $187,400. Now comes the wait — to see when it will be sold. It’s tough putting a house on the market during the holidays, he said.

“You’d never know how much I put into this house,” he said.

About 20 years ago, Heinisch, a packaging specialist from Long Island, discovered Watertown quite by chance following a fishing trip to Pulaski. He never thought he’d end up owning and redoing so much property from what he said is just “a side job.”

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When Builders in Maui Came Together to Help Build Tiny Homes for Man’s Family, it Grew into Growdfunded Rehousing Project

in Housing/People 434 views

Buried under the 24-hour news cycles of the last few months, recovery in Lahaina is progressing, one tiny house at a time.

William Fincher, an owner of two restaurants in the historic Maui town which tragically burned down this August, is receiving help from neighbors and friends to build a pair of tiny homes for his family of a wife, two kids, and two dogs.

Fincher lost both restaurants and his home in the fires, but within three or four days, local builder Juan Ricci was ordering materials to help the Fincher family construct the tiny houses. He did it all from his own pocket until the build team, including Fincher, Ricci, and some more friends had to set up a GoFundMe to look for the money.

Javier Barberi, a close friend, told Good Morning America in no uncertain terms that Fincher was Lahaina through and through, and he simply had to stay in order to help rebuild and recover the spirit of the town. Barberi gave Fincher space on his land to build.

With Barberi’s help and Ricci’s instruction, the tiny homes started coming together. Fincher knew a bit about woodshop, but laying insulation, framing doors, and roofing, were all skills he didn’t have. Ricci and his workers provided free labor and instruction.

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Seven Watertown houses renovated under city program

in Housing 302 views

The city set out to get eight rundown houses fixed up and back on the tax rolls.

Seven of them are moving along, with hope for the eighth.

The eight houses are under a city program to attract developers for rehabilitation and bring them back to life. The city Planning Department used a request for proposals process, or RFPs, to seek interest from developers.

On Monday night, the City Council agreed to sell the two most recent houses — 219/221 W. Lynde St. and 256 N. Pleasant St. — to developers under the second phase of the program.

Five others were sold to developers previously.

“I think, so far, it’s gone well,” city planning and community director Michael A. Lumbis said.

This time, a duplex at 219/221 W. Lynde St. was sold to Matteson Property Management for $6,724, while Rios Renovations LLC purchased 256 N. Pleasant St. for $4,714.

Matteson Property Management plans to invest $92,400 into the duplex on West Lynde Street. Rios plans to put in $56,700 for the North Pleasant Street property.

Both houses are going through complete renovations that includes new exterior siding, kitchens and bathrooms, HVAC systems, plumbing and interior improvements. The duplex also will get a new roof and front porch.

Both developers have six months to get the work done, Lumbis said.

The city received three other proposals for the duplex; Rios submitted the only one for the North Pleasant Street house.

Matteson was involved renovating two other houses in the program as a contractor hired by the developer who purchased them from the city, Lumbis said.

There were no takers for a house at 531 Bradley St. But Lumbis said that another city program might still be used to get that Bradley Street house rehabbed.

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Military Veterans Who Lost Limbs Receive Mortgage-Free Homes to Honor Their Service

in Housing 315 views

Across the country, soldiers who came home mangled from the wars in the Middle East are receiving mortgage-free homes as a small measure of gratitude and honor for their sacrifices.

In DeForest, Wisconsin, a medically-retired former Sergeant Tory Honda was recently given the keys to a new mortgage-free home. Walking through it alongside television cameras, he, his wife Marsela, and their kids were overwhelmed by the gesture.

They learned back in March that a coalition made up of Operation Finally Home, Tim O’Brien Homes, and the Structural Building Components Association had secured a new home for their family in the Bear Tree Farms area of DeForest.

“It means so much to me. Perspective? I can’t even put that into words. I’m just grateful, and I hope I deserve every bit of it. I feel like I don’t, but I really hope I do. I hope I can live up to the standards that everybody looks forward to,” he told Channel 3000, after cutting the ribbon in front of the house.

For an even more unfortunate soldier, retired Army Sergeant Shane Parsons, the gesture was even more grand.

Wheelchair-bound after losing both legs and suffering a traumatic brain injury, the Gary Sinise Foundation built a smart, 100% accessible home for the man, his wife Jennifer, and their two sons Owen and Emmett.

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Apple Committed $2.5 Billion to Build Affordable House and Thousands of Units Have Already been Built

in Housing 304 views

Citing a profound civic responsibility in the tech-heavy city of San Jose, CEO of Apple Inc. Tim Cook created a corporate fund to advance affordable housing projects in the city four years ago.

Now, $1.5 billion has already been spent, and it’s resulted in the creation of thousands of housing units across the city and county, and more.

As one might expect from the world’s largest company by market cap and revenue, the funding has been targeted, strategic, and effective, thanks to a plan to plug critical gaps in existing housing projects or innovate when necessary.

Citing a profound civic responsibility in the tech-heavy city of San Jose, CEO of Apple Inc. Tim Cook created a corporate fund to advance affordable housing projects in the city four years ago.

Now, $1.5 billion has already been spent, and it’s resulted in the creation of thousands of housing units across the city and county, and more.

As one might expect from the world’s largest company by market cap and revenue, the funding has been targeted, strategic, and effective, thanks to a plan to plug critical gaps in existing housing projects or innovate when necessary.

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Plans emerge for homeless, low-income housing project on Watertown’s Main Avenue

in Housing 423 views

For the second time in as many months, the city’s Planning Commission will consider a large affordable housing facility in the city, this time a 61-unit building on the city’s north side.

The city’s Planning Commission will see plans for the first time on Tuesday for a four-story housing facility for the homeless and seriously low-income people that would be built on the north side of Main Avenue.

Three local nonprofit organizations are teaming up to work on the project.

Neighbors of Watertown, along with Transitional Living Services of Northern New York and Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions, is purchasing the 3.4-acre site near Mill Street to construct the affordable housing project.

The city’s Planning Department confirmed late Thursday afternoon that the project was on Tuesday’s Planning Commission agenda.

The three nonprofit organizations are seeking site plan approval.

“We look forward to presenting this project to the Planning Commission…,” Shelby Vakiener, a civil engineer with LaBella Associates, wrote in the site plan application.

LaBella is the engineer working on the project and submitted the site plan application on behalf of Neighbors.

The engineering firm will make a presentation about the project at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the third-floor council chambers at City Hall, 245 Washington St.

The Main Avenue project comes at a time when a Rochester developer is moving ahead with a 120-unit affordable housing project on Commerce Drive.

However, the Main Avenue project would include 30 units for homeless people with substance-use disorders or mental illnesses and the remaining for low-income people.

Businessman P.J. Simao now owns the six separate vacant parcels at VL Main Ave., 144, 160, 164 and 200 Main Ave. and 160 Rear Main Ave.

The developers still need to finalize their acquisition.

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Four-story affordable housing project proposed across from Watertown Post Office

in Uncategorized 263 views

City planners on Tuesday will get their first look at a Rochester developer’s plans to build a four-story, 120-unit affordable housing project on three vacant parcels across from the Watertown Post Office.

A Rochester engineering firm will present proposed plans on behalf of DePaul Properties to construct the multifamily housing project on a 4.5-acre site on Commerce Park Drive.

The developers are seeking site plans and subdivision approval from the city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday.

DePaul, a nonprofit developer based in Rochester, focuses on low-income and needs-focused developments. DePaul is working with Eagle Star Housing, a group based in Victor, Ontario County, that received a grant agreement from New York’s Empire State Housing Initiative to operate a facility in Jefferson County.

Eagle Star Housing’s executive director Zach Fuller said the plan is to set aside space for 30 homeless veterans.

“We’re very excited to come to Watertown and provide services for veterans,” Mr. Fuller said. “We’re really excited to work on this project.”

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

in Enviroment 265 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 193 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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