Epicenter has just received a $45,000 grant from American Express to fully fund the design, construction, and performance monitoring for the Frontier House!
At 650 SF and $36,000 (not including land and fees), the Frontier House is designed to be a housing prototype to address the overuse of mobile homes (“trailers”) in rural places, specifically in Green River where 28% of the housing units are trailers. These 133 Green River trailers house 49% of our population. Most of these homes (2 in 3) were built before 1976, before the federal government dictated minimum standard building codes. This means these homes are over forty years old, built with 2×2 very thin walls, and suffer from a lack of efficiency and durability. This prevalent issue has come to light as our Fix It First program began offering assistance to homeowners living in trailers by making critical home repairs. We soon discovered these old trailers were requiring more costs in repairs than the home was even worth, yet there were limited to no other housing options for these families that were affordable.
This new housing prototype seeks to bring homeownership within reach for our low-income populations. As a stick-built home, the Frontier House will serve as an asset for a family, rather than a depreciating “vehicle” as trailers are treated across the country. In this way, we hope to build a family’s wealth and home security so that they can escape intergenerational poverty and have an asset to borrow against for such things as higher education and entrepreneurship.
Green River is in dire need of not just affordable housing but also durable and efficient housing to replace our deteriorated housing stock. Astonishingly, trailers account for 28% of total housing units in Green River (compared to 6% nationwide or 4% in Utah). And, based on a recent study by Epicenter, 69% of all trailers are built before July 1976, before HUD established a national building code for mobile homes. Of all housing types in Green River, still the figure is high: 47% of all homes are in need of repairs (ref: 2012 Green River Housing Plan). We seek to eliminate substandard housing in Green River through a holistic approach including home repairs (via our award-winning Fix It First program), new multi-family housing construction (currently in pre-development), and through our design and construction of the Frontier House by the end of 2016.
This study acts as a guide for precedent and best practices for the Frontier House and any future single-family construction in Green River.