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Summer 2003

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Colonia Demonstration Home Breaks New Ground on Affordable Housing

PATH opened a Brownsville, Texas demonstration home to the public on June 25, setting a new standard for affordable homebuilding. The demonstration home is located in a colonia of Brownsville, a neighborhood of lower-income and Mexican immigrant families where many substandard shelters suffer under the wind and heat of south Texas. PATH assisted the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) in building this energy-efficient house, part of a larger replacement housing project in the colonia. The PATH demonstration home serves as a model for other low-income community building projects across the country.

Cynthia Leon of HUD addresses a crowd of Texas builders and other visitors at the ribbon-cutting event.Cynthia Leon, regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, addressed a crowd of about 40 builders and housing leaders at the opening event. "We in HUD hope this demonstration home transforms the way houses are constructed in the colonias and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley," she remarked. Don Currie of the CDCB guided visitors on a walk through the unfinished home to point out some PATH technologies in place and describe how PATH innovations reduce construction cost and improve the home's energy savings and weather tolerance.

Workers pose outside the unfinished demonstration home.Numerous PATH technologies and construction techniques were on display in the house: advanced framing that reduces lumber and meets wind resistance codes in Texas, preplanned roof sheathing that cuts waste, improved insulation materials and sealants to retain the house's energy, economical plastic manifold plumbing systems, and air conditioning that complies with stricter energy efficiency codes in the region, among other improvements.

Shown here days before the ribbon-cutting event, the demonstration home was opened to the public while still under construction so visitors could view the innovative framing techniques.Many low-income residents in the colonia live in inadequate shelters, which often lack proper plumbing and electrical equipment and protection from the elements. The demonstration home is a prime example of durable construction and modernized internal systems. Efficient construction techniques and materials reduce the purchase price and produce long-term utility bill savings. When construction is complete, a single mother and her children will move in and make the demonstration home their own.

Content updated on 10/13/2003

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