A member organization of the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Mutual Housing California has been honored with the 2017 World Habitat Award. Each year the World Habitat Awards, in partnership with the United Nations–Habitat, are presented to two outstanding and innovative housing projects—from more than 100 entries from across the globe. The judges—who include Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing—choose developments and providers that not only produced outstanding housing solutions, but also can be copied elsewhere.
Mutual Housing at Spring Lake being 100% Zero Net Energy, means the utility bills are extremely low. Built in 2015, the 62-apartment and townhome community generates energy by solar panels installed on buildings and carport roofs to meet its electricity needs. Each home has a real-time, color-coded meter that helps residents track their energy use and stay within expected amounts for their apartment size. A water-based system for heating and air-conditioning also contributes to the energy savings, which are expected to reach 45,439 kilowatt hours and $58,000 annually.
The community has received LEED platinum certification, the first for a multi-family affordable housing development in Yolo County. The community also received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor airPLUS certification and a Cool Davis Climate Solution Award in 2016.
Mutual Housing’s sustainability commitment and breakthrough of providing zero net energy to a very low income population is remarkable but, what sets Mutual Housing apart is more than physical housing. The World Habitat award also highlights their achievement in providing a high-quality housing option that is affordable to agricultural workers and their families – many of whom struggle with housing insecurity. The estimated 6,000-plus agricultural workers in Yolo County endure some of the worst housing conditions—and most dangerous jobs—in the country.
“We are grateful to receive the 2017 World Habitat Award—and to join the ranks of so many remarkable finalists that are improving the housing conditions of people facing enormous challenges,” said Roberto Jiménez, Mutual Housing CEO. “We’re proud to have developed the first certified Zero Net Energy Ready rental-housing community in the USA, and equally proud that agricultural workers and their families are the beneficiaries of this achievement.”
Further still, Mutual Housing’s resident engagement work is broad and deep. They work with adults, children, and the elderly in a way which is inclusive and empowering, with a multiplicity of programs that speak to the genuine interests and challenges of resident members.
“Through the Community Organizer and other staff I have been presented with opportunities to work though some of my past traumas and grow my leadership skills,” said resident member Hector Sanchez. “We strive to build a community with one another knowing that each of us shares a connection to the agricultural land.”
The Environmental Council of Sacramento congratulates Mutual Housing California. The honor validates the exciting work being done as they continue to push the envelope of sustainable housing.
The other winner was the Post-Haiyan Self-Recovery Housing Programme in the Philippines. After the widespread devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, this project helped more than 15,000 families rebuild their homes and self-recover.
Instead of relocating families, the project helped people rebuild their housing using locally available materials and debris from destroyed houses. This means families were reached and helped more quickly and fewer were forced to leave the area. They also gained useful skills in the process.
“All of this year’s World Habitat Awards finalists are interesting and important,” said Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing. “They are helping so many people in difficult and vulnerable circumstances.
“Billions of people across the world still lack a safe home. These remarkable projects show that it doesn’t have to be like that,” said David Ireland, Director of World Habitat, funders and coordinators of the World Habitat Awards.
“Brilliant people and ideas have come together to show that people on low-incomes can live safely free from the fear of disease, natural disasters and insecurity.”
The World Habitat Awards began 30 years ago with the first awards being given in London in 1986 by HRH the Prince of Wales and the Dr. Arcot Ramachandran, UN-HABITAT Executive Director, at the time.
Run with support from UN-Habitat, the World Habitat Awards are the world’s leading housing awards. Full details can be found at www.worldhabitatawards.org.
Mutual Housing will be presented with the award in February at a United Nations conference in Malaysia. And coming up in March, the organization will break ground on the second phase of this housing community, planned to achieve positive net energy.
Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Columbia, Md.-based Enterprise Community Partners funded capacity-building grants to further Mutual Housing’s work in rural communities and sustainable development.
Founded in 1988, Mutual Housing California develops, operates and advocates for sustainable housing for the diversity of the region’s households.
A member of NeighborWorks America—a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization that supports community development nationwide—Mutual Housing has more than 3,200 residents, nearly half of whom are children.
For information, visit www.mutualhousing.com.
To get a chance to hear from Mutual Housing California in person, please attend the ECOS Board Meeting on January 23rd, 2018.