The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By: Elise Hitchcock
June 23, 2011
The biggest hurdle in owning or renting a "green" home has been having enough green to afford it.
A new partnership between the Home Depot Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners Inc., the city of Atlanta and Southface is hoping to get more low-income homebuyers into hundreds of EarthCraft-certified homes, which carry the "green" designation. The partners' Green Home Advantage program Tuesday showcased an energy-efficient three-bedroom model home at 1223 Spring Park Drive with an affordable $152,000 price tag.
The green designation could make homeownership even more affordable. Buyers of EarthCraft homes can save more than a third of what they spent on utilities in previous homes because they meet certain energy and water efficiencies, said Valerie Fountaine, project manager for Atlanta's Neighborhood Stabilization Program, or NSP, which helps redevelop distressed city property. Those utility savings could be considerable in Atlanta, which has some of the nation's highest water rates.
"Research has shown that low-income households pay four times as much of their monthly household income on utilities payments as an average U.S. household," said Meaghan Shannon-Vlkovic, vice president and Southeast market leader for Enterprise Community Partners Inc.
Interested buyers are encouraged to apply for home purchases through the NSP. But there are income restrictions and eight hours of homebuyer education classes is required, Fountaine said.
"We understand, as a foundation focused on housing for families of low incomes, the importance of making sure homes are affordable in the long term," said Kelly Caffarelli, president of the Home Depot Foundation.
Metro Atlanta, like much of the nation, is grappling with the aftermath of the housing bust and the Great Recession.
"Our foreclosure counseling work gives us a daily perspective on the financial strain people are going through right now," said John Coleman Jr., director of real estate development at Resources for Residents and Communities, which developed the property.
For information on purchasing a home with NSP assistance, visit atlantaga.gov.