Monday, February 23, 2009

The House $20K Built

Nothing says scaling back like living in a house that can be built for $20K. Metropolitan Home's recent article by Karrie Jacobs with photography by Luke Williams brought to light the interesting and affordable housing experiment in Hale County Alabama, one of the the most impoverished counties in the U.S. This experiment was born in the visit of architects Samuel Mockbee and D.K. Ruth in the early 90's when they established a rural studio offset of Auburn University. The idea was for architecture students to design and build sophisticated homes for the desperately poor. Former product development genius, Pam Dorr, is now running the program which includes students, graphic designers and do-gooders looking for a unique experience.

Candidates for these dwellings include an 85 year old woman whose husband died and left no will and she could not qualify for loans to make major repairs to her existing home. Others like her, single moms, fast food workers, all good credit risks with low incomes around $600 per month, would follow. Each mortgage is about $60 per month.

The most popular model is the Bridge House, an angular shed structure supported by two steel trusses cantilevered over a ravine. The Roundwood is made of pine and has a sloping roof. Residents are planting gardens and winning over skeptical neighbors.
Is this the solution we need for the impoverished Appalachian Mountains, disaster areas, and working poor? I would like to see more of these programs get underway. I feel like the pride of ownership says a lot and I can't think of a better way to give some of our underprivileged Americans a chance of buying their own home.


Arlynn said...

I saw a feature about these on world news recently - these homes are amazing! And all of the stories behind them are so sweet, I think I might have been in tears.

One thing the news cast mentioned was that these homes were becoming so popular, that other people (not the poor, etc.) were wanting to use them as their own abodes, and that it was causing a few issues within the community... interesting stuff.

Great post!

Lucinda said...

Thanks! There was so much more to this article and yes, the stories behind the homes are what makes this project so interesting. It's all about giving someone a chance and I was so impressed by the design and simplicity these little places gave to people who really wanted to make the effort.