By Guest Colunmist YOUNG HUGHLEY JR., CEO of Resources for Residents and Communities; and Guest Colunmist STEVEN R. FADER, president of business development at New World Home.
During World Habitat Day in October 2009, Evelyn Nu’Man, Atlanta’s director of housing, introduced New World Home (NWH), an award-winning, rapidly growing developer of sustainable housing, to Resources for Residents and Communities (RRC), a non-profit community development organization in need of a partner for a special project in Reynoldstown.
Inspired by the groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding among the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency agreeing to promote green, affordable housing with easy access to public transportation, our mutual interest was immediately apparent.
NWH has created a unique process of factory-built, quality-assured, LEED-certifiable construction that is considered by many to be the leading edge of green building.
Combining traditional home design with amenities required by modern lifestyles, NWH incorporates next-generation green technologies and highly efficient modular manufacturing methods to create its “New Old Green Modular®” (NOGM®) homes. RRC is an experienced community development corporation with a long and successful track record in buyer support, community revitalization and homeowner education.
Together, NWH and RRC realized the housing market in general had an abundance of single family housing stock to sell, but healthy, affordable, attractive, environmentally friendly homes were entirely missing from the housing mix. A partnership between RRC and NWH made complete sense in terms of combining our respective missions and the clients we can reach: people who are frequently shut out of the larger housing market and, until now, almost completely out of the sustainable housing market.
Among others, we are talking here about large numbers of working professionals who are important to every community including government employees, police officers, firefighters, teachers and healthcare workers.
Through the participation of RRC, the high-quality, LEED-certifiable Essential® Housing line will be available to these individuals along with homebuyer education and a variety of financial support programs such as the Atlanta Development Authority’s Opportunity Down Payment Assistance and the Atlanta Housing Authority’s HOPE VI Down Payment Assistance programs.
The Essential® Housing partnership can produce high-quality housing options under attractive terms including down payment assistance programs that are available to offer significant contributions towards the purchase of an Essential®Home.. RRC operates a comprehensive HomeOwnership Center and is certified by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development as a housing counseling agency.
The homes this partnership creates grew out of a painstaking process, which included a design charrette with the Reynoldstown community – where the first of these Essential® Homes will be built – and reflect the architectural character of their surroundings. Yet, they offer greater energy efficiency and water conservation, lower maintenance costs and a number of other advantages over traditionally built homes. Best of all, they can be completed in less than 120 days.
We know the real estate market still faces many challenges. Everyone is cautious: potential home owners are reluctant to commit; lenders have raised the bar for loan applications, and developers are playing it safe.
But a wider conversation about sustainability, green building and conservation is growing louder. The economy is dictating cost savings needed in our day-to-day existence and the environment is screaming for relief. We believe we will show that the two needs can be addressed simultaneously.
Our target buyers are people who really care about the environment and understand that we are living in an era not only of climate change, but also of cultural change. People want to live in healthy homes and in ways that are economically as well as environmentally sustainable.
These individuals and families understand that their decisions must be guided by long-term impact. It‘s a statement about the future. And these families, who are living on 80% or less of AMI (Area Medium Income), understand that they get more from an “Essential®” home.
We reached a joyful milestone on Oct. 26, when the first model Essential® Home arrived on Kenyon Street in Reynoldstown. This model, developed on a site donated by JP Morgan Chase, will become the sales center for the MOU-inspired development Legacy Pointe and other Essential® Housing projects around the region.
Like the rest of the nation, we hope that the coming year will bring substantial improvement in our economic outlook and a return to a more sustainable paradigm for prosperity that includes every level of the social spectrum. We believe that Essential® Housing can play a part in that recovery with a unique business model that can be replicated in cities nationwide. Certainly, that is our common goal.
But it’s not the best part of what we have created. For us, that will always be the bond we have formed in coming to understand and respect each others’ strengths. For us, our partnership has achieved a perfect balance of mission and business during our quest for conservation, sustainability, quality and safe affordable housing.