Nancy Welsh from Builders of Hope recently published a piece on NHC Open House Blog that talks about the ways in which vacant, foreclosed homes can be put to good use. In a nation where 3 million vacant homes are being threatened to be torn down to make way for a new housing market, Welsh suggests that we look at ways to recycle homes and not just decimate the existing value.
Welsh's article focuses more on how these decisions affect the working class people. She cites a statistic that, "More than third of Americans spend more than 30 percent of their pre-tax household income on housing related expenses including rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, insurance and homeowner association fees." These things tend to make housing grossly unaffordable for even those who make a decent living on their own. Welsh contends that if all of these people need affordable housing and there are millions of vacant houses available, then these homes can actually be more valuable the way that they exist—rather than being destroyed.
Sustainability has been an increasing movement around the world. Many think that it's just about saving the environment and providing clean fuels, but it's also about taking an interest in the fellow man and his plight. Welsh suggests that if the average U.S. household has 2.63 people, then 3 million homes could shelter 7.89 million people—which is roughly the size of Virginia. That's something that her organization, Builders of Hope, has started to do.
Builders of Hope states that their mission is to increase the availability of high-quality, safe, affordable and workforce housing options. The organization is committed to reusing and rehabilitating homes, hoping to achieve economic, social, and environmental benefits. It's a tremendous undertaking but the group has succeeded in helping depressed urban communities live up to their full potential and create homes for families and individuals that weren't able to afford one before.
Welsh also points to a study by North Carolina State University which suggested that rehabilitation an existing home through "extreme green" remodeling projects, can actually remove 19.36 tons of carbon dioxide when compared with building a new home. It's important that policymakers take this into consideration as well, when they are thinking of tearing down perfectly good homes that just need a bit of love.
For more information about Builders of Hope and their mission, you can visit www.buildersofhope.org.