Lewis County Affordable Housing Turns Green!
People's Self Help Housing in Vanceburg, KY, is paving a green path for affordable housing in Kentucky. A highly energy efficient home that PSHH recently built and sold has been LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is only the third house in all of Kentucky to receive the certification.
Melissa Evans paid $90,000 for the home and, given that low utility and maintenance costs in the future are a guarantee, it will remain affordable for years to come. The LEED-certified home cost about $115,000 to build and the purchase cost was lower due to grant support for the efforts from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.The home will use about 1/3 less energy than a standard house of it size.
A couple of years ago, on People's 25th anniversary, the board of directors decided that new houses had to be more energy efficient to offset rapidly increasing utility rates. Further, the organization believes that providing local jobs, further benefiting the local community, is the best way to do this work. Moving into green housing is a way to accomplish both of these objectives.
As Dave Kreher, PSHH executive director says, “we can provide jobs that will help people have affordable utility bills – the two can come together. Why have someone from Indiana come in and do this for us? We have a 28 year history of doing the work with local crews and these guys are as good as it gets. Let’s maximize the benefit for everyone. We have barely scratched the surface here. There is a lot to do.”
PSHH has built several highly energy efficient homes, including a couple like the one shown to the left that contain a solar hot water heater. Kreher and PSHH will remain committed going forward to this win-win situation, in large part because the community has such great needs for both affordability and jobs. Lewis County — which is in northeastern Kentucky and has a population of about 14,000 — is one of 43 counties in the state where poverty is considered persistent. In 2008, Vanceburg's median income was less than $21,000, or about half the state average. Electricity rates just rose by 26% recently. And county unemployment rate was near 18% at the start of this year.