Small Organization is Doing Big Things for Affordable Housing

[Photo: The Pollitt family outside of their new home.]
The Pollitt family outside of their new home.

People's Self Help Housing (PSHH), a HUD-funding recipient, is a small non-profit housing organization in Lewis County, Kentucky that is doing some big things in the realm of energy-efficient home building. Most notable, is its premier development named Ever Green. It is in the little town of Tollesboro on 12 acres of land that PSHH has started a type of construction laboratory where it is experimenting with home design and green development.

PSHH has transformed what was once a cattle pasture into a "field of dreams fulfilled" for a few new homeowners. By building attractive, energy-efficient residences this project dispels the notion that energy efficient homes are not affordable. In fact, the homes are affordable, at least in part, because they are 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 will be built to more rigorous environmental standards than typical homes. Homes will feature durable, energy-efficient construction, ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and other amenities. As a result, the homes are typically at least 50 percent more efficient than traditional homes, meaning that homeowners in Ever Green can expect to save more than $1000 per year in utility costs.

There are currently five homes completed in Ever Green. These residences 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 Pollitt's 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.

What makes Ever Green even more unique is the fact that they are not building the new homes to "cookie cutter" type standards, but are instead modifying each new design to see if they can increase its efficiency in comparison to PSHH's previously built homes. 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. Mini-split units are more energy efficient because they eliminate leaky duct work and they constantly adjust their output 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.


Content Archived: February 19, 2014