FACING AFFORDABLE HOUSING WOES OF OUR OWN, FIND OUT HOW THIS DEVELOPER IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, NAILED IT
BY Zoe Phoon
Either non-profit Foundation Communities has got something exactly right, or is doing something perfectly, or both. Of course, credit must also go to the fund donors and volunteers.
It provides affordable homes and free-on-site support services for thousands of families, veterans, seniors and individuals with disabilities, its website reveals.
Regarded as one of the most forward-thinking affordable housing development companies in the US, Foundation Communities owns and operates 18 communities all over Austin and in North Texas.
It empowers residents of its communities to achieve educational success, financial stability and healthier lifestyles.
The company provides people with an attractive place to call home and opportunities at their doorstep to transform their lives.
Sustainable non-profit model
About 80% of Foundation Communities’ budget comes from the affordable rents its residents pay which cover operating expenses for its communities.
It invests in green building initiatives to save on operating costs, reduce residents’ utility bills and make its communities better places to live.
Among them is energy-efficient Bluebonnet Studios, a Foundation Communities supportive housing project that offers sustainable abodes to Austin’s most vulnerable citizens who are the homeless, low-income veterans and local musicians.
Located in the trendy South Lamar neighbourhood, the 107 apartment units ranging from 386st ft to 537sq ft are close to public transport and with easy access to retail and entertainment.
Design for healthy lifestyles
Bluebonnet Studios also showcases how social housing developers can promote healthy lifestyles via design.
Conceived by Forge Craft Architects + Design, the property features sustainable elements like recycled and locally sourced materials, a well-insulated envelope, optimal orientation, low-flow fixtures and occupancy sensors, according to Inhabitat.com, a weblog on design and innovations in technology.
The architects worked with a difficult site and a very tight budget. All that required close collaboration between the design, construction and ownership teams as well as help of sustainability experts.
Access to natural light is provided by creating a light well that runs through the centre of the building.
Such emphasis on daylight also allows most of the building to be used without artificial lights when there is power outage.
Centralised LG VRF units tied to individual apartment thermostats provide heating and cooling. Each thermostat is coupled to both window sensors and door-triggered sensors.
All the interior finishes and products are regionally sourced, recycled and healthy.
To help residents keep their homes green, each received a small package of tools including recycling bin, recycling magnet, green cleaning recipes and recommendations for conservative thermostat settings.
In addition, a green housekeeping programme provides a dispensing station with green cleaning chemicals for maintenance staff and janitorial contractors.
Among Bluebonnet Studios’ community amenities are controlled access, computer lab and TV lounge, laundry facility and rooftop terrace. It’s also bicycle friendly and steps from public transit.