lora and michael’s cottage story

Lora and Michael

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas continues the series featuring Cottage buyers with a great PR Newswire article about Lora and Michael.

Lora and Michael Gallion were lifelong renters and living on a fixed income. The only houses the couple could afford were run-down spaces that were almost uninhabitable.

Then one day, the Gallions saw a sign about the Baptist Town Cottages, a revitalized neighborhood in Greenwood, Mississippi, with new homes for families earning less than 50 percent of the area median income.

“I’m so glad we saw the sign,” said Mrs. Gallion, 50, a former certified nursing assistant now living on disability. “We had looked at other homes to rent, but even at $400 a month, the condition of them was not good.””

Continue reading the article at PR Newswire.

more than housing

The Baptist Town Cottage Project has outcomes that are immediately apparent: families have decent, safe places to live. To expand the impact this project has further, our project team has folded in empathy, skills training and design thinking. This has included the Ladies in the Landscape storm-water demonstration garden, employing neighborhood residents throughout construction, and creating carpentry and landscaping details based on the preferences of each home owner. Now, as the closings are being completed for each home, Cottage buyers are finding allies in the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB) and Planters Bank and Trust. To date, FHLB’s Home Equity Leverage Partnership (HELP) program has provided down-payment assistance grants to eight families. Read the article about this grant success on the PR Newswire.

My favorite part is this great picture of Brenda, and her story.

“She is finding her way back to something. She lived in Biloxi when Hurricane Katrina hit, and she was displaced from her home,” Ms. Roush-Elliott said. “The Baptist Town Cottages were designed for people in her situation, and despite many years and many miles traveled, she now owns a home designed to be a dignified place to live, affordable for her family, and resilient in the face of disaster.” (Excerpt from the article)

at home in greenwood

On Thursday, December 18th we celebrated the first families moving into the Baptist Town Cottage Project with a ribbon cutting ceremony. I was moved by the number of people who attended. Throughout the project, support has come from numerous individuals and organizations. I think that this generosity is rooted in an understanding that home is about more than walls and a roof, it is an avenue to financial stability and physical and emotional health. Just as important, I think the commitment that the larger Greenwood community has given to this project shows that a home is also what surrounds the structure. Healthy homes will lead to a more vibrant and equitable Greenwood.

Thank you Greenwood! For a video of the day visit Mississippi State University’s website where the Office of Public Affairs covered the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Photo credit Bryn Stole

can customization be affordable?

Thomas Fisher, Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and an important critical mind within the field of architecture, was recently a guest on Enoch Sear’s the Business of Architecture. Per the norm with Fisher, his insights into architectural practice are framed within a broader economic picture that brings an interesting perspective. During the discussion, Fisher cites economist Jeremy Rifkin’s writing about a movement from “a mass production, mass consumption economy of the 20th century in to what he calls a mass customization economy of the 21st century.” As a concept, “mass customization” seems antithetical, but real world examples are everywhere. Smart phones are probably the most prevalent example. Each phone is mass produced and has certain similarities, but the exterior, screen display, apps, and functionality are controlled by the end user (and at this point, we wouldn’t have it any other way).

Closer to home, the Baptist Town Cottage Project has provided some opportunities to practice mass customization through a modular, affordable housing effort. Though each size floor plan is identical to the next, various interior finishes and exterior colors allow home owners a level of individualization. Additionally, each home owner was paired with a team of architects and designers during the Enterprise Rose Fellow Alumni retreat last spring. The teams spent an afternoon together, each creating a custom carpentry detail that will be built and installed as the slats between foundation piers and the railings around stairs and porches. Today, we are excited with the project progress as eight foundations are currently under construction and the Greenwood-Leflore Fuller Center for Housing was recently awarded a $10,303 grant from the GE Volunteers Foundation to construct our “mass customized” designs.

For more about this concept, listen to Sears and Fisher’s entire discussion.