The orange piping seen here is part of an energy efficient and cost-effective geothermal heating system being installed at the six-plex being built at Pleasant Valley Village location. (Houston Today photo)

The orange piping seen here is part of an energy efficient and cost-effective geothermal heating system being installed at the six-plex being built at Pleasant Valley Village location. (Houston Today photo)

Grant boosts seniors housing project

District of Houston applied for the money

A $60,000 grant received last week will help defray the overall costs of constructing the Houston Retirement Housing Society’s new six-plex now underway at the Pleasant Valley Village location at 11th and Avalon.

“We were sure happy with this news,” reports society president Arnold Amonson of the grant from the Northern Development Initiative Trust which will be funnelled through the District of Houston to the society.

The District applied for the money in January, tagging a program called “dollars to the door” to act as an incentive to the private sector to build housing.

In this circumstance the District emphasized the closeness of the development to the downtown core and how the Pleasant Valley Village fits in with the District’s longterm vision as outlined in a housing needs assessment completed recently which highlighted the need for more seniors housing.

“This incentive grant makes the construction project more affordable for the Houston Retirement Housing Society and the benefits will be far-reaching as seniors wishing to downsize will be able to sell their current homes, increasing the housing stock that is available on the market,” said mayor Shane Brienen in a release.

Amonson said the $60,000 grant represents just under 10 per cent of the construction cost of more than $700,000. As with most construction projects, an increase in the price of lumber this spring boosted the price tag.

In keeping with the design of the existing units, this six-plex will have four two-bedroom and two one-bedroom units. Each is to be around 800 square feet and there will be a large common room.

All units are rentals and are built to be accessible for people with physical limitations using walkers or wheelchairs so that there are no steps and doorways are wider.

Energy efficiency is a key part of the building project with the units being heated by a geothermal system in which piping is looped under the flooring with liquid then passing through the piping underground to collect heat and then up again.

“This liquid goes to a plant in each suite which compresses it to distribute heat to the pipes. Very good for the environment and very cheap to operate. Heating cost is less than half,” said Amonson.

Energy efficient windows and insulation add to the environmentally-friendly project design, he said.

The impetus for local seniors housing dates back 20 years ago when a group of people gathered to address a shortage of seniors housing in the community.

And a major step forward was accomplished when Groot Brothers donated the five acres on 11th Street.

The first six-plex was built in 2007 with the second one coming in 2010 and the third in 2015.