The public is invited to a Home Showcase and Remodeling Expo on June 4 at 729 East Water Street in Paoli.
It is at the site of a new model home built by the Lost River Career Cooperative students under the guidance of construction trades department instructor Jon Shellenberger.
The event, called “Possibilities In Paoli,” will be hosted by the Paoli Housing Task Force.
“Whether you are looking to build a new home, remodel one or renovate and repair what you have, it will be worth your while to attend,” said Danny Hickman, Paoli Town Council President. Several resources will be available.
Tour of the model home includes floorplan, itemized cost analysis of the model home, map of Paoli properties (interactive) and vendors from “all things housing” to offer ideas/consultation.
There are several innovative techniques used in the model home that will be on display. They include insulated concrete form walls that increase energy efficiency and reduce construction costs, compact, yet open layout and passive solar design.
“While this home has been sold, we hope it will serve as a model for future housing development,” explained project manager Phil Mininger. He continued, “It is super energy-efficient and will fit on many of the long, narrow lots that Paoli has in the town limits. It was designed with that in mind.”
The home’s design was led by Indiana University Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design faculty member Jon Racek and inspired by the work of his students in a partnership with Orange County residents through IU Center for Rural Engagement initiatives.
“We are so fortunate to have the partnerships we do with Indiana University, our local Career Cooperative and the many folks who continue to help improve housing in our area,” Martha Nice, chairperson of the taskforce, shared. She offered that the survey of over 400 Paoli residents helped prioritize needs.
“Many folks said they had trouble with down payments and qualifying for a loan. So we worked with our financial institutions to set up classes and individual counseling for that. Some prefer apartments, so we are working with a developer on that project. The Planning Commission lowered the required square footage for a home to 700 sq. feet. That makes projects like tiny homes feasible and we have a contractor planning to do at least a couple of those.”
More information about all of the task force activities and resources the group is developing is available at: bit.ly/paolihousingtaskforce.
The group strives to have 25 homes built or renovated by 2025 through partnerships with community organizations, developers and builders, financial institutions and local, state and federal programs
Like many rural communities across the state and nation, Orange County’s affordable and desirable housing stock is lagging behind demand. New housing stock has increased less than 2% between 2014 and 2019, the lowest percentage of Orange County housing stock recorded in U.S. Census data tracking back to 1939. With housing playing a critical role in resident retention and attraction, as well as workforce growth, the Paoli Housing Task Force is working in collaboration with the Orange County Economic Development Partnership, the Orange County Community Foundation and the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement to address local housing needs.
“The mission of Orange County Economic Development Partnership is to improve the life of our citizens through activities that promote economic development. Housing is a huge part of improving the lives of our current and future citizens in our community. A study conducted in 2019 stated we needed to add additional housing to our existing inventory, It’s exciting to see the community of Paoli use innovative ideas to bring additional housing opportunities to our county!” Kristal Painter of the Orange County Economic Development Partnership concluded.