Tiny House. Big Impact.

Tiny housing making big impact on combating homelessness in America

Affordable housing and providing access to quality housing is a vital social responsibility for the multifamily industry and something that is near and dear to the heart of Package Concierge, especially founder and CEO Georgianna W. Oliver. As such, we wanted to share with you this blog from Andy Helmer, CEO of Shelters to Shutters, a national non-profit working to help combat homelessness, on how our industry can make a difference.

The fight to end homelessness in this country is a massive undertaking. About 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness each year, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Alleviating this problem in a meaningful way will surely require a multi-faceted effort involving federal, state and local governments, non-profits and the private sector.

Tiny homes have become a solution to homelessness. Here’s one possible component of the solution to this giant issue: tiny homes. Across the U.S., organizations are using tiny houses and apartment homes, which typically range from 100 square feet to 500 square feet, to provide shelter for the homeless.

For instance, the nonprofit American Family Housing recently opened Potter’s Lane, a 16-unit community in Midway City, Calif., to house homeless vets. The property features 480-square-foot apartment homes made from energy-efficient shipping containers.

Across the country, in Newfield, N.Y., the nonprofit Second Wind Cottages, relying heavily on donated materials and volunteer labor, built a community of 12 tiny homes that house homeless men. Residents pay rent as they are able to help defray the community’s operating expenses.

Other examples of similar communities include the Tiny House Village in Seattle and the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas.

Advocates of these developments note that they are comparatively cheap to build, and constructions costs often are further mitigated through the use of materials and labor supplied for free by area businesses and residents.

Can the multifamily industry incorporate tiny apartment homes for the homeless into their communities? It’s certainly something to think about. With its ample resources and vast supply of creative and intelligent people, the multifamily industry should not be shy about stepping up to the plate to help address this critical issue, and tiny apartment homes might be one way to do that.

Another Piece to the Puzzle

Shelters to Shutters (S2S), a Fairfax, Va.-based nonprofit, offers another way for the apartment industry to reduce homelessness. S2S currently works with 23 apartment management companies – including such large operators as

How tiny would your tiny home be?

AvalonBay Communities and Equity Residential – to place people experiencing homelessness in onsite, entry-level jobs and provide them with housing at the same communities at which they work.

Overall, these apartment companies have moved more than 100 people out of homelessness in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, South and Texas. And they’ve gained hardworking, loyal associates in the process. The job retention rate for S2S participants is 92 percent while the average industry turnover rate, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council, is 31 percent.

S2S provides its apartment management partners with pre-screened, job-trained candidates for entry-level positions such as maintenance technicians and leasing agents. The organization focuses on the 70 percent of the homeless population who are situationally homeless due to a life-altering event such as job loss, medical or health emergency, divorce, domestic abuse or the loss of a primary income earner.

Whether it’s through tiny homes, working with nonprofits like S2S or some other method, the multifamily industry can make a real difference in the fight against homelessness. I strongly urge you to consider how you and your apartment company can do just that.

Want to learn more about us? Click here to find out – Package Concierge

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Gardens for Better Communities!

gardens

In our last blog, we discussed the hottest amenities for 2017. One amenity caught the eyes of our readers: gardens and vegetation. Having greenery around a property is nothing new, but showcasing it as an amenity is. Take Fuse Cambridge for example. This year, they installed a Living Green Wall (seen above) by Cityscapes, which has more benefits than just visual appeal. Content producer Lauren Shanesy writes, “In addition to complementing Fuse’s LEED Silver certification, the plants themselves aid in providing natural air filtration, sound insulation, and thermal regulation within the space while reducing residents’ stress levels, as well”. A wall of vegetation may not work for your community, but a community garden might. With communities competing for new residents, appealing to green thumbs can be a great angle.  Here are three reasons why a community garden is a way to separate your community from others.

Save on produce costs

A community garden is great way to give residents a way to grow their own produce. Health conscience residents will spend top dollar at the grocery store for organic produce. What if you gave residents a way to grow produce that meets their needs? If you can market this interest, it can be a selling point. Residents may love the idea, but may have never had a garden. Nothing a community event can’t solve! Current green thumbs may see interest in leading a few community classes to help. This can help your community get more social while growing healthy produce for all to enjoy! Sounds like a win/win to us.

Low Costs for Gardens

The cost of starting a community garden can vary, but the majority of the cost is up front. This will be in the form of tools, fencing and other gardening staples but the investment is worth the costs. Todd Tibbits, senior vice president of property services for Post Properties states: “Community gardens pay for themselves in the same way a community pool or tennis court does – in resident satisfaction.” Plus, many communities cover costs through plot rental fees. The cost is low since the residents are responsible for the care, but going back to point number one, money for produce goes into the garden and not the grocery store.

Increased Property Values

Studies have shown that high-quality community gardens can increase property values in neighborhoods. The largest increases are in lower-income communities but higher-income communities see a bump too. To keep the garden higher quality, a landscape professional can provide some consultations and advice. This will help everyone in the community understand how to maintain the investment. Higher property values can give a boost to your revenue in the long term so protect your asset!

Community gardens are a great way to engage with residents. With the right marketing, residents find value in knowing where their produce comes from. The cost of starting a garden is upfront and can offset with minor plot rental fees. Finally, the garden can boost property value. Interested in finding out more? Consult with a local landscaping professional to see what’s possible. Never forget that a little green goes a long way!

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Green Apartment Supplies

Looking for a way to make your apartment not only stylish but environmentally friendly? The amount of recyclable items has steadily grown from a trend and transformed into a staple at stores that sell home decor, office supplies and other items for around the house. What you might have seen tends to be produced from cardboard or not so pleasing to eye, so you may be wondering what options there are out there to green it up a bit while staying fashionable. If you want to make the most of your apartment purchases so they’re eco-friendly, here are some options you might like to considered:

Cork Mat

This can be used in your kitchen as a trivet to hold hot pots, in a home office to pin notes to or as a piece of wall art for your bedroom.

Soy Candles:

These candles are produced with naturally occurring materials and can often be found at local farmer’s markets. They burn longer and come in a variety of colors.

Soy Paint:

Paints based in soy are environmentally friendly because they come from a renewable research. The best part of these candles is that they do have the harsh chemical smell of other paints.

Bamboo Mats:

Bamboo mats look great in a home office or as a small area rug in living rooms. By buying one or more of these, you help cut down on the use of petroleum-based plastics.

Organic Cotton Linens:

Buy linens that have been locally produced if possible, but as a whole, organic cotton linens offer a softer feel than synthetically produced materials.

Reclaimed Wood:

The best furniture available is one you help design. The best way to do that is from reclaimed wood. Cabinets, chairs, tables and other items can be created from reclaimed wood and helps encourage the concept of recycling.

Plants:

Adding plants to any room adds a pop of color. Not only are plants pleasing to the eye, but they also add natural air purification.

Be sure to check your local stores and ask to see any of their eco-friendly items. The variety is growing by the day as people become more conscious of how their decisions affect the world around them. Going green doesn’t have to be bland and boring. It can be exciting, fashionable and eco-friendly! Happy shopping!

 

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