My career has included being the architect for three HUD Neighborhood Revitalization Projects that included prototype designs for single family and senior duplexes. The site plans were a mix of infill lots and development of vacant tracts of land to stitch each neighborhood back together again. An important component of these projects was HUD’s commitment to home ownership.
Like the communities with whom I was privileged to work, the Town of Easton recognized the need for housing for its residents who are at or below Easton’s median income. In response, the Town created The Easton Affordable Housing Board (EAHB) in April 2005. The goal of EAHB was to develop a plan that could utilize the assets of the Affordable Housing Fund to increase housing opportunities for those in need. Board responsibilities include recruiting applicants who wish to purchase a new home, along with assistance in the renovation of existing owner-occupied homes. The EAHB Board works closely with the Easton Town Council to identify any changes or improvements to the program.
The Easton Affordable Housing Program (EAHP) also offers other assistance with its First Time Homebuyer Program, to help persons who have not owned a residential property for the past five years. EAHP’s Home Renovation Program assists low and moderate income families who need renovations including energy efficiency, livability and safety issues. The home must be occupied for at least one year. Grants, deferred no interest loans for low income families and low interest loans for moderate income families are also used to enable families to obtain the help they need.
Currently, the EAHP owns six houses in the historic Hill neighborhood that will be renovated and sold. The first completed house at 308 South Street is now for sale and Jim Bent, Realtor, and EAHB Chair, gave me a tour. We first walked around the site under the shade of flowering crape myrtle trees and the large tree in the rear yard added more shade and privacy.
The Town of Easton’s Staff Architect, Don Richardson, donated his design services. The house has been completely rebuilt from the foundation to the roof and upgraded to conform with current energy standards. The two-story house has a front porch and the columns are detailed with bases and capitals instead of plain structural posts. The front porch spans most of the length of the house and its hipped roof is a pleasant contrast to the pitched roof of the main house. Light yellow wood siding, crisp white trim and soft blue shutters create a very pleasant curb appeal.
The front door opens onto a small foyer between two rooms, one with a walk-in storage closet and the other with a smaller closet. The truncated “L” shaped kitchen is behind the larger of the two rooms and leads to a rear hall with the stairs to the second floor and a door to a small porch to access the rear yard. The water heater and pantry storage are tucked under the stairs. The powder room at the center of the house completes the main floor plan. The three second floor bedrooms all have windows on two sides of the room for sunlight throughout the day and the large bathroom with a window is centrally located next to the laundry closet.
In my experience with neighborhood design, I know how vital home ownership is to the health of a neighborhood. Pride in one’s home leads to keeping up with maintenance, adding landscaping, building that much needed addition, etc. It is also the catalyst for other homeowners to keep up with painting and other repairs to maintain property values. Kudos to the EAHP on this house’s transformation and I look forward to writing about the next one!
For more information about this property, or eligibility requirements about EAHP’s programs, contact Susan Filbird with the Town of Easton’s Affordable Housing Program at 410-822-2525,“Equal Housing Opportunity”.
Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.