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By Whitney Hale, Carla Blanton
A ribbon cutting was held for the first prototype from the University of Kentucky's Houseboat to Energy Efficient Residences (HBEER) initiative with local, state and federal dignitaries on January 27 in an established residential area near downtown Monticello, Ky.
HBEER is a partnership between the UK College of Design, the Center for Applied Energy Research at UK, the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation (KHIC) and the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC).
The multi-year project was initiated in the fall of 2009 and directly responds to the impact the current economic downturn has had on the houseboat manufacturing industry in the Commonwealth. More than 50 students and faculty at the college's School of Architecture were responsible for researching and developing initial models of energy-efficient, affordable housing that could be produced by the region's houseboat manufacturers.
Today, HBEER is creating green jobs and bringing back to work some of the 575 skilled workers and 1,000 related jobs that were lost in the houseboat manufacturing and marine industries due to the economy.
"This project meets a multitude of needs in our region, by putting families back to work, providing energy-efficient housing, increasing the demand for Kentucky-made products, and creating a hands-on learning experience in the classroom," Congressman Hal Rogers said. "Additionally, it highlights the great success we can achieve when partners join resources for the benefit of families across the state."
A potential buyer has nearly completed the steps to qualify for affordable, permanent financing. In this applicant driven process, the home may be occupied as soon as the financing is arranged.
"The opportunities are endless for creating safe, energy-efficient, affordable homes while adding good-paying jobs to the local economy and promoting Kentucky products," said KHIC President and CEO Jerry Rickett. "We are proud to be partners with the University of Kentucky and local employers to make this vision a reality."
Highlights of the HBEER project include:
Other attendees at the ribbon cutting included UK President Eli Capilouto, Appalachian Regional Commission Co-Chair Earl Gohl, U.S. Department of Agriculture State Director Tom Fern and Monticello Mayor Jeffrey Edwards.
HBEER has received financing from the U.S. Department of Energy through the Kentucky Department of Local Government and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Appalachian Regional Commission, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation and UK.
KHIC was formed in 1968 to stimulate growth and create employment opportunities in a nine-county region of Southeastern Kentucky. In 2003, KHIC expanded the service area to 22 counties, including Bell, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Estill, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Madison, McCreary, Owsley, Perry, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell, Wayne and Whitley. The organization's mission is to provide and retain employment opportunities in the region through sound investments and management assistance.
Created by the 1972 Kentucky General Assembly, KHC is a self-supporting, public corporation administratively attached to the state's Finance and Administration Cabinet. A portion of KHC's funds are derived from the interest earned through the sale of tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds. As the state housing finance agency, KHC is committed to lead Kentucky in providing safe, quality, affordable housing.