AUTHOR: Jennifer Jourdan
PHONE: (814) 867-0656
AGENCY: State College Community Land Trust
“Stabilizing the Community with Affordable, Energy-Efficient Homeownership”
June is National Homeownership Month. For State College Community Land Trust (SCCLT) homeowners, homeownership is stabilizing - a pathway to economic mobility and an opportunity for inclusive wealth building and environmental sustainability. SCCLT continues to innovate affordable homeownership solutions that make a difference in our community.
Short housing supply, a median 2022 home price of $386,841, and expensive utilities due to aged systems are significant barriers to homeownership in State College. Many neighbors – bus drivers, care workers, teachers, clergy - do not earn enough to gain a toehold in this tight housing market. SCCLT’s University Drive Passive House Duplex Retrofit will offer two new opportunities for households at <50% of the Area Median Income to own an energy-efficient, permanently affordable home.
This retrofit of a 1970s duplex is the first multifamily Passive House renovation in Pennsylvania and only the second in the nation. The certification is one of the highest standards in home energy efficiency. Each unit will be highly insulated, airtight, and updated with a high-performance HVAC system, triple pane windows, and solar panels. These homes will be healthy and comfortable with low utility costs. This project not only puts homeownership in reach for a population frequently excluded from our expensive housing market, but also shows the intersection of affordable housing and energy efficiency, helping to reduce both energy burdens for homeowners and environmental impact.
Safe and affordable housing plays a vital role in positive educational, employment and healthcare outcomes. The community benefits from more diverse neighborhoods, reduced infrastructure burdens, and increased civic engagement. Since SCCLT homes remain affordable in perpetuity, the homes are owner-occupied and contribute to local taxes and other economic stability, forever. Investing in affordable housing and renewable energy improves the block, borough, and beyond.
Finally, the Centre Region Council of Governments’ Climate Action Plan focuses on reducing residential energy use as a primary avenue to reducing carbon emissions throughout the region. As similar aging housing stock in our area requires energy efficient updates, our University Drive retrofit can offer solutions, public education, and workforce training. Additional resources, such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the PA Whole Homes Repair Act, will soon be coming online for climate resilience work. As homeowners and small property owners have more incentives to upgrade their homes, we hope this project will serve as an example to prepare our community to best use these incoming funds.