An affordable housing project on a long-vacant lot near the corner of Woodmere Ave. and Eighth Street in Traverse City is ramping up for a spring groundbreaking.
First and foremost, this project tackles a long-standing problem in the city: affordable housing options. Secondly, it’s attracting national attention as part of the project is attempting to be one of the first net-zero affordable housing communities in the country.
Project partners Habitat for Humanity – Grand Traverse Region and HomeStretch Nonprofit Housing Corp. completed the 2.5-acre land purchase Dec. 31 from the city for $290,667. The two entities organized for this project under the umbrella of Depot Neighborhood LLC and together will build homes for 21 families.
Both the organizations’ leaders – Wendy Irvin of Habitat for Humanity and Bill Merry of HomeStretch – shared their plans with The Ticker. Here’s an overview of what’s to come:
HomeStretch: Five duplexes and one single-standing structure for a total of 11 units. The three-story structures (similar in look to the nearby Midtown development with a garage on the ground level) will offer approximately 1,200 square-feet of living space and many energy efficient features in the construction.
Habitat: Ten single-family homes with a garage; two-story structures of approximately 1,200 square feet. The goal is that these homes will be “net zero," which means the home produces as much energy as it consumes and it must use a renewable energy source to do so – in this case, that will be solar. In northern Michigan? Absolutely, officials say.
How exactly is net-zero affordable? “This idea of net zero is not an innovative idea – this is ‘off the shelf’ technology,” says Dan Paulson, a Habitat board member involved in energy efficient construction for 40 years. “But what is innovative is the approach to financing. Owners of affordable housing that is net-zero are amortizing energy costs for the next 30 years in their mortgage payment. Fixed energy costs mean financial stability over the life of that mortgage.”
HomeStretch: Has received a $199,000 loan from the Lansing-based Opportunity Resource Fund for infrastructure development – sewer, water, roads and sidewalks. It has also secured a $300,000 grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for construction of the first four housing units.
Habitat: Relies solely on volunteers, in-kind donations of time and materials and fundraising to build its homes. It already has some funding in place for infrastructure, but is kicking off a $1.8 million capital campaign next week (see event details below).
Home Cost, and Who Can Buy?
HomeStretch: Right now the homes are planned to sell for $100,000 each. It will be selling its units to income eligible housholds with incomes that range from 60-80 percent of the area median income. For a four-person household in Grand Traverse County, 60 percent is a maximum of $39,540 and 80 percent is $52,700. See all eligibility requirements here.
Habitat: The homes are mortgaged for each family situation, serving those families below 60 percent of the area’s median income. The price of the home is made affordable for each individual family through a 0% interest mortgage, sweat equity hours, homeowner advocacy and in-kind donations. Three of the project’s homes have already been spoken for. The organization will hold an “application fair” to fill the remainder of the homes.
Groundbreaking on infrastructure work is scheduled for mid-April. That work should wrap up mid-summer and then home construction can commence. Homestretch plans to have its first units complete and on the market (if they haven’t already been sold) by late fall/early winter, and Habitat plans to have its three approved families moved into their new homes by year’s end.
Future phases of construction are dependent on future grants, loans and fundraising campaigns, but both organizations say all the homes will be built within three to five years.
Habitat for Humanity will officially launch its capital campaign at its Hearts For Habitat fundraiser next Sat., Feb. 9, 6-9 p.m. at the Hagerty Center in Traverse City. See the unveiling of the Depot Neighborhood’s plans, enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a live and silent auction and live music. Tickets are $40 per person.