Last May, when Y Innovations founders Brennan Stark and Steve Burns broke ground during a ceremony that included U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, Wilmington City Council President Hanifa Shabazz and Mayor Mike Purzycki, it was an empty lot on Jefferson Street.
Today, it’s a finished, eco-friendly, highly affordable house, ready to be lived in by a local family experiencing housing instability.
But first, there will be an open house celebration on Saturday, Feb. 23, from noon to 3 p.m., including a ceremony, tours and snacks.
And non-alcoholic drinks, since Stark and Burns are both still under 20.
They were 16-year-old Archmere Academy students when they challenged themselves to design a living space that would be accessible to people who can’t afford to buy a traditional house. It had to be as eco-friendly, naturally efficient and long-lasting as possible.
They found their solution in straw bale houses that use agricultural waste products — these houses are as efficient, fire resistant and sturdy as traditional houses, with exponentially less cost. These types of houses already existed — Stark and Burns learned how to build them as interns for the Natural Cottage Project in Oxford, Mich. — but they tended to be built by and for wealthier people in search of a green lifestyle. The sheer economy of them, though, made them ideal for lower-income living.
The Jefferson Street House is a 660-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-story house with a driveway and a back garden. It’s about the size of a two-bedroom apartment, but the expected monthly mortgage would be far lower than rent on a comparable unit.
To find a family for the home — which is planned to be the first of many — Y Innovations has partnered with local nonprofit organizations, including Family Promise.
This free event is open to the community. If you plan to go, RSVP here.-30-
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