Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Atlanta group helps homebuyers save ‘green’ with green housing

Whether housing is affordable is determined by so much more than its purchase price or monthly rent. High energy costs also can be a heavy financial burden on families whose incomes already are stretched. According to the national Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, low-income households typically spend 14 percent of their total income on energy costs, compared with 3.5 percent for other households.

Resources for Residents and Communities (RRC) in Atlanta, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a NeighborWorks network member this year, hopes to help homeowners reduce their costs by incorporating an array of green features in its new single-family development, Legacy Pointe.

Legacy Pointe will be a small subdivision within Atlanta’s Reynoldstown community consisting of eco-friendly, pre-fabricated homes for purchase.

“The uniqueness is the development will be mixed-income,” says Jill Arrington, CEO of RRC. “The [homes] that will be affordable will be held in a community land trust to keep them perpetually affordable.”

To earn its “eco-friendly” label, Legacy Pointe will feature energy-efficient LED lighting in the common areas, pervious concrete (highly porous material that allows precipitation to pass through and re-charge ground water levels) in the parking  lot and landscaping that requires very little watering.  Each home also will include separate lines for hot and cold water (thus reducing waste) and temperature controls that reduce reliance on the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.

“We didn’t have to turn on the HVAC unit in our model home at all this summer,” Arrington says. “Even last winter, we never had to turn on the heat.”

The first model home in Legacy Pointe was assembled so
quickly it was like "magic."
With such features, it’s no wonder the Reynoldstown community is already abuzz about the new development.  Arrington recounts the day in 2010 that New World Home, a national green home builder and RRC’s partner in this effort, built the first house that inspired the idea of Legacy Pointe.

“They rolled everything in at 7 that morning, [put] the structure in place, and by 5 p.m. that day they locked it with a key,” recalls Arrington with a laugh. Reynoldstown residents were slightly surprised by a house that seemingly appeared out of nowhere.  “If you left early that morning, you saw a vacant lot.  So when you got home later that night and saw a house sitting there, it would have freaked you out.”

Reynoldstown, which sits less than 10 minutes east of downtown Atlanta, began experiencing growth in its housing market after RRC redeveloped the community in the late 1990s.  Mitchell Brown, RRC’s COO, notes that homes in the community are in high demand.

 “Reynoldstown is now one of the hottest neighborhoods in Atlanta. The average house is priced at $225,000 to $250,000, but they’re selling for around $300, 000,” he says.  “RRC has helped turn the neighborhood around to be a place where people want to live.”

Zach and Anastasia (shown with their daughter, Penelope)
purchased the first model home in Legacy Pointe.
This probably explains why the first model home for Legacy Pointe sold before the actual development is even complete.  The lucky homebuyer?  A client in RRC’s homebuyer education class.

 “The fact that we can provide a quality home for a relatively affordable price to clients in our homebuyer education classes is a win-win,” says Arrington.

As Reynoldstown continues to grow, RRC remains committed to ensuring its residents can stay in the community, in homes that are affordable.

“One of the goals of our founding CEO, Young Hughley Jr., was to provide units of permanent affordability,” explains Arrington. “Legacy Pointe is just one of the projects we have in the works to do this.”

Written by Constance Troutman, public relations specialist for NeighborWorks America.