Job Opening: Epicenter Housing Specialist

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We have a unique opportunity for an exceptional individual with a wide and varied skill-set: a chance to live and work in a small town in Utah. To help citizens of this rural community lead better lives. To demonstrate the value of design in community problem solving. To gain a one-of-a-kind experience in an alternative model of professional practice. To learn new skills. To improve our non-profit. To improve yourself.

We believe this desert town can bloom, but there is work to be done. We’d like to work with you to do it. We’re hiring for the full-time position of Housing Specialist. This unique individual will lead the award-winning Fix It First home repair program, assist in the design and construction of Frontier Houses, and more. Download the details here.

Applications are due July 22nd, noon MST, emailed to work@ruralandproud.org. Submit a cover letter, resume/CV with 2 professional references, and portfolio of relevant work not to exceed 8 pages and 5 MB, all as PDFs.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
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Farewell Armando!

armando-monument
Today, we bid farewell to a great collaborator and friend. Armando Rios, who first joined Epicenter as an AmeriCorps VISTA in 2012, will be leaving us for new opportunities in the great state of Michigan. Over his four years in Green River, Armando has helped Epicenter achieve momentous things, including:

– the completion of the first Green River Habitat for Humanity House,
– raising $70,500 in grants for Habitat for Humanity and serving a year-and-a-half on their Board of Directors,
– starting and developing Fix It First, recipient of the Utah Housing Coalitions’s 2014 Rural Project of the Year,
– 37 Fix It First project completed, affecting 100 Green River Residents and repairing 25% of the 146 homes identified by the Green River Housing Plan as in need of repairs, and
– raising $93,000 in grants for Epicenter, and self-generating $40,305 for the Fix It First program through client repayments that sustain the program perpetually.

We will miss his service, unparalleled work ethic, drumming abilities, and mirthful excitement. Below are some of our fondest memories of Armando and Green River.

mariaThe only thing I hate more than choosing a favorite anything is saying goodbye. So, for now, as a proponent of top-five lists, here’s my Top Five Favorite Armando Rios Memories:

5. (Almost) Every Taco Tuesday: Taco Tuesday has been a tradition since Epicenter’s inception: every Tuesday at 11:30 AM the staff goes to a local Mexican eatery (cue the never-ending La Veracruzana v. La Pasadita debate) and eat lunch (sometimes actual tacos) together. Regardless of the potential for slow service or mixed-up orders, Armando is always down for Taco Tuesday, and I love that about him.

4. Church Camp (circa July 2014): During Armando’s time in Green River, he’s always been the drummer for the house band. Of all the times they played, my favorite night was actually just a random Church Camp practice. It had been a +100-degree July day, but we had just been blessed with a late-afternoon rainstorm. With the garage doors open, a cool breeze, and the multi-colored Christmas lights reflecting off the wet concrete driveway, Chris Lezama and Armando played to an audience of me and a few others. Everything felt just right.

3. The Battle of Westwater (July 21, 2014): Every summer in July, Epicenter goes on a Westwater rafting trip. On the second day of the 2014 trip, a great naval battle was waged. I don’t recall the details of the battle, as much of it was a blur, but I could guess that while Chris was attempting to water-board me, Justin Queen was probably Hulk-smashing Armando into the river. Or maybe he was just peacefully hiding under the shade of the raft. You never quite know with Armando.

2. GRHS Basketball: I love going to sports games of all kinds, I always know that I could count on Armando to join me in cheering on the Green River High basketball team. The DJ G. Riches jams and semi-warm nachos just won’t be the same without Armando’s nervous panicking during the last few minutes of the closest rivalry games.

1. Grand Canyon: Epicenter has a tradition of road trip staff retreats, and the 2013 trip to the Grand Canyon puts all other road trips to shame: swimming in cold Lake Powell on the hottest day of our lives, sleeping on the edge of the Grand Canyon without another soul for miles, finding scorpions by blacklight at night, learning how (not) to dribble an Australian rugby ball. I worry that we’ll never have as good a trip as that one.

None of these memories are directly work-related. That’s not to say that Armando wasn’t an incredibly valuable asset to Epicenter’s work; he built the Fix It First program up from the ground! He will be missed in the office, but he will especially be missed as a contributor to the culture of Epicenter after-hours and to the community of Green River at large. He’s our ambassador of good times, sultan of summer, bringer of beats, dancer to Pony, lover to all, and the most fashionable longboarder/cyclist for over 100 miles.

You’ve left your mark on this place, Armando, and you won’t soon be forgotten.

– Maria Sykes, Principal of Arts and Culture, 2009-present

13528757_10100419751012661_870192749661845185_nDespite his self-infatuation as a Leo, Armando is quick to speak of his love for each of us: those here now, those in the past. The “I love you”‘s he throws out to everyone can come across as flippant, but in quieter moments we’ve had one-on-one, I can honestly say he’s actually very genuine in his care for us all, noting specific reasons and lengthy stories that he holds on to. For years he served as the Volunteer House on-site manager, often the first to welcome the hundreds of people that have visited with a hand-written note, local tips, and an invitation to watch the sunset. It’s not uncommon that people recall a story with Armando as a key component of their time here in Green River, no matter the length of their visit. It’s Armando’s everyone’s-always-invited attitude that I hope we find a way to maintain after he leaves.

Beyond that, he simply gets shit done. He has been at the bad end of plumbing, in tiny crawlspaces and attics, installed drywall overhead, renovated a dog kennel, and pulled weeds alongside volunteers he recruited, doing all these things in what most would determine inclement weather. Armando’s also the one making sure there is music and beer for the beach, to which I can’t recall one instance where he declined going.

– Jack Forinash, Principal of Housing, 2009-present

Armando-ashleyThere are too many great Armando memories—we all know this. But one of my favorite first memories was Melon Days 2012. It was the first time Armando and I had been on a float in a parade. Thrilled to be nuzzled up next to itchy hay bales, a half-dozen excited children, and buckets of candy to throw at the parade watchers, it was quite the introduction to our new home in Green River. This was only the beginning of our time in the wild, wild, West—packed with new adventures and endless happy moments.

Armando’s love for Green River and the people that live here is intoxicating. I truly admire his commitment to the work he has done, and this all attests to Armando’s quality of loyal friendship. He is a true friend: trustworthy, honest, and incredibly fun. I feel very lucky to have had time to work with and get to know the one and only Armando Rios Verde.

– Ashley Ross, AmeriCorps VISTA, 2012-2013

am-bryArmando was the first person I really got to know at Epicenter. Just a few days into my internship last summer, he and I left Green River to drive a group of design students from Japan around the Mountain West and then to Design Build Bluff where they worked on some small design-build projects. We acted as chauffeurs and advisors, radio DJs and cultural ambassadors. Many of the stories gathered here highlight Armando’s insatiable desire for fun and entertainment, but what I remember most from that trip is his equally strong sense of caring and responsibility. He remained protective of those students (whether hiking on a cliff edge or preparing for a night on the Las Vegas strip) and a diligent teacher. Looking at what Armando has accomplished over his four years at Epicenter, it is obvious that those qualities—his sense of responsibility and his care for others—have allowed him to foster great relationships with volunteers and grow the Fix It First program into an award-winning precedent. I saw all of that immediately within him. Over a year later, that trip with those Japanese students and Armando is still my fondest memory of my time at Epicenter.

– Bryan Brooks, AmeriCorps VISTA, 2015-present

AARAlthough many of my Green River memories involve Armando/Armandito/Mandi/R-man-doe, here are my top eight Armando memories, pictured from top left to bottom right:

1. 8-8-88 Celebration: Armando’s 27th birthday including tattoos by Mary, a dance party, and an amazing time.

2. Melon Days: Matching watermelon shirts for the parade, the watermelon eating contest, volunteering at the kid’s art booth, and everything in between.

3. Swamp Cooler: Although it was freezing, Armando eagerly helped remove a swamp cooler off a roof for a home repair. We enjoyed throwing it off the roof so much that, for a second, we considered carrying it back up to be able to throw it back down again.

4. Sardines Champ: Ten of us searched for Armando for a good half hour while playing Sardines. Turns out he was hiding under the couch. Luckily no one sat down.

5. Disc Golf: Armando’s sense of style is unsurpassed in almost all situations. The outfit he wore while playing disc golf further confirmed this.

6. Backyard Pool Parties: Armando: the pool inflator, filler, and DJ.

7. Utilikilt: The first day Armando wore his homemade Utilikilt working on site… only to spill Horchata on it during lunch at the taco truck.

8. Swasey’s Beach: Armando was always at the beach, but the most memorable moment was probably his impersonation of Baywatch last summer. Unfortunately, this resulted in losing another pair of his glasses to the mighty Green River.

Thank you Armando for playing such a large part in making Green River great and unforgettable. You were always willing to hang out—whether it was Sunset Club (I always look east now because of you), binge watching Netflix on cold winter weekends, or just sitting around the fire telling awesome stories. Green River is going to miss you, but Grand Rapids is going to be great. In all sincerity, ‘preciate ya!

– Katie Anderson, AmeriCorps VISTA, 2015-present

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OH I KNOW YOU’RE FADED featuring Armando Rios and filmed by Mary Rothlisberger.

Thursday, June 30th, 2016
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Meet JD Scott

—an interview with Epicenter Principal Jack Forinash and incoming Epicenter Housing Specialist JD Scott

JD-scottPhoto: JD Scott assembling a conference table.

JD Scott is a public interest designer currently residing in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he is nearing completion of his Master of Architecture degree from Tulane University. JD and Epicenter are a match made in heaven: in addition to his design-build experience, he is a Bike & Build alumnus and was a site supervisor for a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Colorado! We’re ecstatic to add him to the Epicenter team in May.

“Making is my obsession. This is evinced by my independent work in the visual arts. I am constantly searching for new media, new tools, and obstacles to challenge my hands. What began with the simple pleasures of charcoal on paper has recently shifted into collage, furniture design, and printmaking. Far more satisfying, however, are opportunities to make with others. This past fall, I had the opportunity to participate in a design-build studio at the Tulane City Center. My teammates and I designed and fabricated a mobile produce market for a local non-profit dedicated to food justice. I found this environment — characterized by collaboration and improvisation — to be a limitless source of inspiration.” –excerpt from a letter from JD to Epicenter.

Jack Forinash: Let’s start with your name. Who are you named after?
JD Scott: I’m named after my grandfather, John David Scott.

J: You’re a Pisces. Do you invest any credit into the typical attributes of a Pisces?
JD: I’ve never been interested in astrology, but I do think qualities like compassion, adaptability, and devotion are important to me. Qualities like laziness or escapism have never really applied to the way I live.

J: How does this internship fit into your big picture/career/life?
JD: I see this position as an opportunity to learn from a model of practice that is interdisciplinary, highly collaborative, and rooted in a specific community. These are values that I can apply to my career goal, which is to establish a community-based design practice in my hometown of El Paso, Texas.

J: As an El Pasoan at heart, what of El Paso’s history, demographics, and/or prestige do you find to be the biggest draw for you to one day come back to?
JD: I don’t know where to begin. It could just be the smell of the creosote bushes in the desert when a thunderstorm approaches. It could be the huevos rancheros at H&H Carwash, the machaca burritos at Lucy’s Cafe, or the horchata that old ladies serve on the streets downtown in the summer. It could be the trails in the Franklin Mountains that I have explored since I was a kid.

As a designer, the place interests me for many reasons. It sits next to Ciudad Juarez, which in my teenage years was one of the most violent cities in the world. So perhaps design can facilitate healing there. Texas Tech University recently opened a school of architecture in downtown El Paso, so that represents an opportunity for me to teach one day. The city (like most places in the southwest) suffers tremendously from sprawl, yet it has many opportunities to create pedestrian and bicycle corridors. El Paso has a thriving music and arts scene, yet few venues actively promote these sectors; so perhaps design could help to create a thoughtful backdrop for this culture.

J: Name the character you would be for a day in a TV show you’re currently watching, and describe why you would take on that persona.
JD: I don’t watch TV currently, but when I used to watch TV, one of my favorite shows was Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. I would take on his persona for obvious reasons – he constantly gets to experience new cultures and meet new people. Beyond this, I really appreciate his work – a mix of film, writing, food, and relationships. Bourdain represents someone who uses his training and knowledge base (cooking/writing) in a very public setting; this is how I’d like to practice.

J: What’s your favorite card or board game, and why?
JD: Liverpool is my favorite card game. It is slow-paced and social; you can easily eat and drink while playing (the game takes a long time to finish, so this is crucial).

J: What book, movie, or person is significant to your work/process/life, and why?
JD: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’ve read it twice now, and each time it has prompted me to reflect on my life and to critically evaluate the work that I do. As a designer, I can get caught up in the details or in the simple joy of making things. This book is a reminder to constantly be mindful of broader social issues.

J: What about the natural landscape around Green River excites you most?
JD: Canyons and dark night skies.

J: What are most looking forward to in your work with Epicenter?
JD: I’m looking forward to a lot of things. I’m excited about the hands-on problem-solving offered by the Fix it First program. I’m excited to engage with local residents and to work on projects that can directly improve their daily lives. The opportunity to be involved with other Epicenter programs and projects is exciting to me as well. I’m looking forward to meeting new collaborators and to learning from their skillsets.

J: What would be your superpower?
JD: The power to breathe underwater.

Monday, April 4th, 2016
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Mobile Home Survey

Mobile homes (also known colloquially as “trailers”) were first introduced in 1956 as a new form of affordable housing. Since then, trailers have become a significant portion of the affordable housing stock across America. According to the 2014 American Community Survey (ACS) of the US Census Bureau, 6.4% of housing units across America are trailers. In Green River, this percentage is an astonishing 27.9% (source: 2012 Green River Housing Plan; the 2014 ACS has the percentage at 26.0%).

Mobile Home Survey-portion trailers pie charts

After completing a town-wide housing assessment in 2012 that pointed out the significant use of trailers in Green River, Epicenter staff members followed up in 2014 with a survey of trailers only, going door-to-door to thirty-five homes. We performed the study with the following goals: 1. to understand the unique circumstances and home repair needs of residents living in trailers, 2. to create a list of clients to refer to Fix It First and Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush With Kindness home repair programs, and 3. to gauge the desire for multi-family housing options in Green River.

In early 2016, Epicenter updated and formatted this internal report for publishing. It can be found here.

Since this survey was completed, both Epicenter’s Fix It First and Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush With Kindness home repair programs have begun performing critical repairs on trailers. These housing units were otherwise ineligible for virtually all housing repair programs offered by other agencies.

The collected survey information has also been used in Epicenter’s efforts to develop new multi-family housing units in Green River.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
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Fix It First Celebrates Three Years

—Armando Rios – Housing Programs Specialist

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Fix It First turns three this month. With it being winter and not a prime building season, we now have time to sit down and reflect on the accomplishments Fix It First has achieved over the last three years. Everyone likes to hear about achievements and accomplishments, and though cliché, Epicenter and Fix It First could not have done it without all of the great people who have spent their time making the program succeed. We are proud to work with enthusiastic and energetic people to create affordable housing solutions for Green River.

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A timeline of the history of Fix It First (click to enlarge).

Fix It First was developed in response to the City of Green River’s 2012 Housing Plan which revealed that 46% of Green River homes are in need of repairs. The program officially began on January 18, 2013, when the first project was completed, while the program was initiated in October 2012 when Bike & Build awarded Epicenter $10,000. The grant is the largest amount that Bike & Build awards; the funds were utilized to begin a revolving loan fund. At this point Epicenter had the ability to purchase the materials necessary to do home repairs. This was the pivotal moment when the first steps were taken to develop the program.

Armando Rios, an AmeriCorps VISTA at the time, shadowed David Woodman at ASSIST in Salt Lake City; Dave manages ASSIST’s Emergency Home Repair program, which served as a model for Epicenter’s Fix It First program. The other model was Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush With Kindness program, which has plenty of experience doing repairs and success stories throughout the nation.

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Over the years we have been able to further develop “the gears” of the program, collecting data on what materials were used on a project, what extra materials were required to be purchased, hours spent planning and constructing, and repayment timelines. We now have a collection of specialized tools, and our construction knowledge base has grown to allow us to predict what sort of problems we will potentially encounter. With each project, the program’s efficiency and client satisfaction improves. All of us can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Through Fix It First, we’ve directly impacted 74 Green River residents completing 32 home repairs. With additional grants along with the repayments of loans by clients, we’ve invested a total of $52,491 in improving the housing stock in Green River, addressing issues on 31 homes in the last three years. We’re proud of the fact that 23 projects have been paid off, and the remaining nine have a 0% delinquency rate on their monthly payments. By the end of 2015, Fix It First clients had paid back $29,353 through affordable, low-interest monthly payments.

The projects completed to-date have addressed housing burden issues in 14.6% of the 212 homes identified in the 2012 Green River Housing Plan as in need of repairs. The momentum is there to reach the goal of eliminating all housing burdens in Green River, and that drive to improve quality of life for all Green River residents has been noticed by other private foundations. Our local electrical company, Rocky Mountain Power, awarded a $5,000 grant through their philanthropic foundation for use on home repair projects focusing on improving energy efficiency. The Sorenson Legacy Foundation pitched in $1,500 from a broader grant funding many of Epicenter’s programs. The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation jumped in too, awarding $10,334 in 2015 for both Fix It First and in support of our efforts of researching and planning new multi-family housing development.

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This new year will bring even more investment into Green River’s housing stock and alleviate burdens for local residents. For 2016, we’ve set a goal of 15 new projects, along with 10 additional small interventions to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in mobile homes.

For more information on Fix It First or to donate to the project, please call (435) 564-3330 or visit Epicenter at 180 S. Broadway, Green River, Utah.

Monday, January 18th, 2016
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Epicenter Hosts Bike & Build for the Seventh Year in a Row

Bike & Build volunteers add structure for a roof patch.August 6, 2015, that’s the day that Bike & Builders began trickling in from Moab to stay in Green River for the next two nights. While Epicenter staff members were finalizing preparations and cooking dinner, our guests were exploring the town and resting in the air conditioned volunteer house.

Bike & Build is a group of 31 young riders who pedal across America to raise money and awareness for affordable housing. The group that traveled through Green River left New Haven, Connecticut, on June 11th to arrive in Green River on August 6th. This group will complete their 4,000 mile trip in Half Moon Bay, California, on August 24th.

After the group had rested and explored Green River they were welcomed into the community center for a family-style meal. The group was introduced to their two project sites for the next day and split into teams within each project.

In a partnership between Epicenter and Habitat for Humanity of Castle Country, a series of exterior accessibility improvements were completed for an aging homeowner. Bike & Builders created a new stair tread to even out and lower an existing high step, painted the exposed entry into the home, and created a ramp for easier access into the home.

Meanwhile across town, Fix It First staff members were leading a Bike & Build team that was patching a leaking trailer roof. Along with the patch job the group repaired water damage on the inside of the home by tearing out existing paneling and replacing it with drywall. The entire roof received a new protective coating to keep the leaks out.

Throughout the years Bike & Build has made a huge impact on Green River, from giving $10,000 of seed money to begin the Fix it First program to working on six Fix It First projects over the past three years and two A Brush With Kindness projects over the last two years.

A big thanks goes out to all of the Bike & Builders who helped out and good luck reaching the Pacific Ocean!

Also, great news! The application for Fix It First is now available online here.

Monday, August 17th, 2015
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Now Seeking Summer Interns!

Photo by Carson Davis Brown

Non-traditional design internships are available in the desert of southeast Utah.

Epicenter is seeking summer interns to live, work, and play in Green River, Utah. In this small, rural town in the high desert of the American West, you will work alongside citizen architects, designers, planners, and artists to serve the needs of their community. Here, you’ll gain invaluable and one-of-a-kind experience within the realm of public interest design in this alternative model of professional practice. Epicenter capitalizes on its ingrained idealism, enthusiasm, and subversion to nurture community-led projects and programs that underscore Green River’s rural pride and pioneering spirit.

Don’t be a “house pet to the rich” for the summer! Join us here where you’ll work alongside other young professionals, interacting with and directly helping real people in a real place. To apply, submit a letter of interest no later than April 9, 2015 to info@ruralandproud.org.

Potential Projects:
– Lead University of Utah architecture students on the construction of a shading structure on the front of the office.
– Work as a project assistant on eight Fix It First home repair projects (start to finish including material take offs, labor estimating, design, construction, and post-evaluation).
– Lead one home repair project with volunteers in early August.
– Be trained in grant writing and write for funding for affordable housing programs.
– Collect data and create a report on housing conditions and needs of local residents.
– Host a creative half-day workshop with local kids on a personal or professional interest.
– Assist in the design/construction of museum exhibits and help in the preparation of a multi-participant exhibit running June – October at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum.

Qualifications:
– Design/build experience is very much preferred, but not required. Ability to work safely with tools is required.
– Be enrolled in architecture, landscape architecture, construction, or community planning.
– Hold a valid driver’s license; ability to drive stick is a plus.
– Effective written, verbal, and drawn communication.
– Interest in rural issues, community development, affordable housing, and/or public interest design.

Workload and Compensation:
– 13 weeks in the summer of 2015, with adjustable start dates of May 14 through August 13
– A total of 500 hours, all able to be counted as Intern Development Program (IDP) credit
– Shared housing with other summer interns is provided ($975 value)
– $2,250 living stipend
– Up to $250 travel reimbursement
– Group meals twice per week are included
– Use of a National Park pass
– Work 400 feet from an Amtrak platform (Chicago to San Francisco – the California Zephyr line)
– Sunny days at the river beach just north of town
– Free admission to a local rodeo

To apply, submit a letter of interest no later than April 9, 2015 to info@ruralandproud.org.
An application will be provided in return. Interviews will be held via phone.

More information on Epicenter can be found on our website or from the following recent press:
Fix It First
Epicenter named Curbed Young Gun Finalist
“Rural and Proud” by Venue
“Green River looks at trails system to draw visitors” by Salt Lake Tribune
Cabin Time 5: Green River (video)

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015
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Fix It First Named “Rural Project of the Year”

The Utah Housing Coalition held their 18th Annual Utah Housing Matters Conference on September 23rd & 24th, 2014 at the Yarrow Hotel in Park City. Each year, the Utah Housing Coalition honors outstanding businesses, organizations, or individuals engaged in making a significant contribution and or benefit to the community in the field of affordable housing and community development.

This year the awards committee selected Epicenter’s “Fix It First” program as Rural Project of the Year. After years of investing their lives in Green River, the young professionals at Epicenter learned from the community to tailor programs for the specific needs and social environment. The Fix It First program is in response to the city’s Housing Plan, completed in 2013, which determined that 45.7% of the homes in Green River were considered deteriorated or dilapidated and in need of repairs. As a town with high homeownership, an aging population and conservative political biases, traditional solutions were hard to implement and “hand-outs” were discouraged by the small town lifestyle. Epicenter formed Fix It First to be a program funded by private dollars instead of tax dollars, repaid by clients through affordable micro-loans, and solving the defined need based in data exhibited in the city’s housing plan.

Additional awards presented Tuesday, September 23rd included:

The 2014 Jack Gallivan Legacy Award winner is Dave Conine. Dave puts his heart and soul into fashioning dynamite successful long-term projects that have champions, leaders, funding, strategy, advocacy and a whole host of critical ingredients to best meet affordable housing project and community needs in Utah. He is creative and a life-long advocate for affordable housing. His work both professionally and personally on poverty issues, community revitalization, sustainability, housing for the ill-housed and solutions is an unfolding, extraordinary, significant achievement. Watch the award video here.

UHC Member of the Year: Utah Coalition of Manufactured Home Owners received the award for their legislative advocacy and partnering with Utah Housing Coalition on critically needed improvements in mobile/manufactured home law.

Agency of the Year: Utah Non-Profit Housing Corporation received the award for their owning and operating more than 2,000 units of affordable housing throughout Utah, serving households with area median incomes of less than 50% with the majority making less than 18% (making it the lowest or one of the lowest statewide). The population served includes the elderly, disabled, mentally ill, as well as those suffering from domestic violence and HIV Aids. UNPHC has served more than 17,000 households to date.

Urban Project of the Year: Iron Horse Transit Housing developed by Park City for their innovated funding. They received a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to build affordable housing for seasonal transit employees.

Person of the Year: Karen Haney, employed by Family Support Center’s LifeStart Village for bringing her tenants out of homelessness and into a secure, safe environment; along with building their self-sufficiency and self-esteem. Her program is designed to get single women out of homelessness and give them the tools and skills to be self -sufficient, so that they can be good role models for their children.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
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Bike and Build in Green River


On August 6-8, the Epicenter was visited by Bike & Build, a group of 31 young adults biking across the country from Providence, Rhode Island, to Half Moon Bay, California. The group stopped for a build day, one of only thirteen on this route, in Green River to work on three Fix It First projects, two Habitat for Humanity A Brush With Kindness projects, and the Epicenter building itself. The Epicenter crew was very excited to get so much work done in such a small amount of time.

The night before the build day, after a family-style meal, Green River town tour, and Bike & Build’s own presentation, Epicenter introduced all of the projects and split the group up into four teams.

The first team worked with Fix It First staff (Steph Crabtree and Armando Rios) on two home repair projects. On one of these projects, the group was split into smaller teams to work on replacing a window, patching a leaky roof, and building a larger front entry with handrails and a larger walking surface when entering the home. In the morning, the roof team left for an hour for an additional project, helping a local senior citizen keep her yard to the city’s code by removing weeds and trimming back some large bushes.

The second team worked with our Habitat for Humanity summer intern, Ellise Gallagher, on one A Brush With Kindness project and one Fix It First/Habitat for Humanity collaboration. In the morning this group of six Bike and Builders traveled across the river to Elgin to work on one project. This project was to recoat the roof of a trailer home, re-structure the porch awning to be more stable, and install rolled roofing over the awning to stop any future leaks above the homeowner’s front door. All of that was completed in the morning, after lunch the group traveled near the foot of the Book Cliffs to work on their second project, helping a senior citizen couple clear their yard of weeds; with all of the rain Green River has been seeing lately, some of the weeds were more than six feet tall! At a later date, Fix It First will revisit this couple’s home to cover exposed wire and plumbing.

Team three consisted of four Bike & Builder’s and our new Habitat for Humanity staff member, Jeff Adams. Their project was to recoat the roof of a trailer home that was in dire need of repair. This group’s efforts will ensure that the roof will not leak and the homeowner will live in a safe, dry place. After the group completed their work they traveled to other sites to lend a helping hand.

Team four worked on the Epicenter building. The cornice on the building had begun sagging and it was their mission to make needed repairs to improve its durability. Epicenter summer intern, Evan Rimoldi, led six Bike & Builders in this task, which included adding tie-backs to brace against the wind, which had caused the damage over the years.

A huge thanks goes out to Bike & Build for their hard work in our small town!! The impact of this group over the years has been enormous and without our initial $10,000 grant in November 2012 from Bike & Build to start Fix It First we would have not been able to complete 23 separate critical home repair projects to date.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity, visit HFHCC.tumblr.com. For more information on Bike & Build visit their website at bikeandbuild.org

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
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Colorado Outward Bound In Green River

Two weeks ago, Green River was visited with three classes from Colorado Outward Bound totaling 33 volunteers and 99 volunteer hours. The first group was given the difficult task of building a short trail at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum to the “moments of pause” created by University of Utah students last fall. The group of 11 volunteers built the fantastic trail in a little less than three hours (photo above)! They cleared the path of large bushes, created and leveled a walkway into the side of a hill, and lined the trail with rocks. The museum is very happy that they are now able to send people to sit and experience the river in a safe manner while also educating visitors about historic river levels.

The second group worked on a Fix It First home repair project. The group replaced one window and began digging into the ground for a future patio area between the carport and the homeowner’s main entry on the side of the house. The neighborhood cat, Francis, also joined in and gave the volunteers support by sitting and watching from the shade. This group was instrumental in prepping the site for the next group of Outward Bound volunteers.

The final Outward Bound van was comprised of 12 volunteers eager to help Epicenter staff on the Fix It First project that was started by the previous group. These volunteers finished digging out the patio and replaced two windows. Once again, Francis the neighborhood cat stopped by to give his support. Also, three members of this amazing group helped out at the Boys and Girls Club of Green River by removing two dangerous concrete foundations in the play yard and weeding. Now the yard is even more beautiful and safe for kids!

A huge THANK YOU goes out to Colorado Outward Bound for sending these amazing workers our way. We were extremely proud to host these groups and wish them all safe travels as they learn and travel through the wilderness of Utah. For more information on Colorado Outward Bound please visit their website.

Monday, August 4th, 2014
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