AFFORDABLE HOUSING BUILT RESPONSIBLY
The Home Depot Foundation defines an affordable home as one that people of limited means can afford to own, operate and maintain over the long-term. We consider not just the initial purchase price of a home, but whether the owner can afford the monthly mortgage payment, utility costs, transportation expense and up-keep. We believe that by helping families and individuals secure dependable, healthy, affordable housing, we are increasing their chances of success in all areas of their lives and are creating stable, strong communities.
Benefits of Homeownership
Homeownership can be the starting point for a successful life and the key to a vibrant neighborhood. People who own their homes can be sure that their monthly housing costs will not increase, like rents can, and are better able to budget. Over time, they can accumulate wealth through property value appreciation. Fewer moves among apartments mean less family disruptions: adults can keep the same job and plan dependable transportation to work and their children can avoid transferring to new schools. Neighbors who own their homes are more likely to know each other and take pride in the appearance and safety of their community. In short, by supporting the creation of housing that is affordable to those of low to moderate income, the Foundation is creating healthier, more sustainable communities.
Reducing Operation and Maintenance Costs
The Home Depot Foundation believes that the financial ability to purchase the home is just the first step, and that developers must also consider the cost of operating and maintaining a home. Energy and water conservation are not only good for the environment, but are important economic factors for a homeowner as well. A home built responsibly can be more than 30% more energy efficient than conventional homes that meet code. Similarly, high efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances can cut indoor water usage by a third. These efficiencies can create significant savings for a family over the course of a year. Siting homes to take advantage of the sun's light and warmth and the shade of nearby trees not only creates a more comfortable home but can also reduce energy use significantly. Additionally, incorporating durable materials reduces maintenance costs over the life of the structure, making homes more livable for years.
Protecting Health and the Environment
The Home Depot Foundation believes that housing developers should focus on the health and environmental impacts of housing design and construction. Housing should be built in a sustainable manner that also provides improved indoor air quality, uses materials that are mold-resistant and provides proper ventilation. Indoor air can have 2–5 times the pollutants of the air outside, leading to asthma and other respiratory problems and expensive trips to the doctor. Designing neighborhoods that are walkable and provide access to safe, green recreational spaces contribute to the health of both individuals and the community. Transit oriented homes, those built with access to public transportation, help encourage a healthier lifestyle while reducing transportation costs, which can be the second highest monthly expense for some. Using construction materials efficiently, recycling and protecting nearby trees and natural areas are all essential components of building that respect and maximize the environment.
Benefits to Renters and Rental Property Managers
The Home Depot Foundation also believes that "greening" rental housing has economic and health benefits for occupants of the rental units as well as property management companies. By incorporating energy efficient products and water conservation measures in each unit, improving indoor air quality through integrating proper ventilization and moisture control while avoiding products that contain contaminants, and improving the durability of the units, housing developers can help safeguard the health of residents while reducing maintenance and operating costs for property managers.
A Comprehensive Approach
The Home Depot Foundation firmly believes that building responsibly is a form of stewardship and is simply a smart way to build quality, affordable housing. While the goals of building sustainable, affordable housing are easy to embrace — habitat conservation, better pedestrian environments, improved occupant health and resource efficiency — they are often more difficult to achieve in practice. That is why the Foundation partners with affordable housing developers that take a comprehensive approach to creating healthy communities through building homes responsibly, tree planting and preservation and greenspace development.
Building responsibly, often referred to as "green" building, requires attention to a broad range of issues and incorporates the following measures related to design and construction:
- minimizes the depletion of natural resources, including timber and water;
- decreases the amount of construction waste going to landfills;
- controls erosion and minimizes impact on natural areas;
- increases energy efficiency and conserves water in construction and operations;
- designs and installs landscape features, such as trees and shrubs, that minimize demand for water and synthetic chemicals and reduce the heat island effect
- reduces maintenance costs using innovative and durable materials;
- improves indoor air quality;
- controls moisture and provides proper ventilation;
- uses more environmentally friendly materials; and
- ensures smart site planning and land use.
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