Inmates build house for Springfield family

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(Host) A family is about to move into a new, home in Springfield that’s part of an unusual affordable housing initiative:

The home was built by women who are serving time at the state prison in Windsor.

As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, the three-bedroom ranch was part of a work training program at the prison.

(Sneyd) Two dozen women at the Southeast State Correctional Facility worked on the project in the prison yard.

Many of them had no construction skills at all when they started.

But they worked with Vermont Works for Women, a group that trains women and girls for nontraditional careers, like homebuilding.

Tiffany Bluemle is executive director.

For seven years, her group has been helping inmates learn skills that will help them support themselves when they get out of prison.

But for a long time, female inmates were housed at a cramped facility in Waterbury.

(Bluemle) “We built dog houses on a smoking porch and did plumbing instruction in a rec room. When the women were moved down to Windsor, it gave us an opportunity to think a little more expansively about our programming because we had a bigger physical plant to work with.”

(Sneyd) So, for the past two years, women at the Windsor prison have learned frame and finish carpentry, electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing -all the skills it takes to build a house.

The modular homes are built in halves. Then they’re trucked to a lot and assembled on a foundation.

The prison program has now built two houses and both of them have been sold to families in Springfield.

The Rockingham Area Community Land Trust owns the land for both houses. That will ensure that the homes remain affordable in the future.

Jeff Staudinger is executive director of the land trust. He says the new home is energy efficient and well built.

(Staudinger) “It’s a great place for a young household to really get going. It’s in a good Springfield residential neighborhood. It has a nice lot and just will be a great place for a young family to live.”

(Sneyd) The house is valued at about 150-thousand dollars. But because the land trust has worked with other agencies to make it affordable, it’s selling for 116-thousand dollars.

And around this time next year, another family will have an opportunity to buy a similar house.

Rough framing already is well under way.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.


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