Affordable and Environmentally Friendly Homes Rise in Guilford

Nonprofit developer The Green Planet Company builds community with support from state and local funders.

State and local officials celebrate the ribbon cutting on the first of ten affordable homes in the Great Hill Cottage Community. Photo Credit - Matt Higbee

As housing and energy costs escalate, a nonprofit developer in Guilford is doing its part to build affordable and environmentally friendly homes. The Green Planet Company is developing the Great Hill Cottage Community, ten “Net Zero” houses on 12 wooded acres located ½ mile from downtown Guildford. Once completed with solar panels, the homes will produce as much energy as they consume.

To keep the homes affordable, the developer received funding support from Capital for Change and the State Dept. of Housing along with several smaller funding sources including The Community Foundation.

This is a dream come true.

Ruth Dwyer / Great Hill Cottage Community Homebuyer

The first house was sold to Ruth Dwyer, a teacher who had rented in Guilford for many years to be close to family. A second house was sold to a single parent of two who works in Guilford as a healthcare provider.

Dwyer said she would not have been able to afford to remain in her hometown were it not for the opportunity to buy into the new community.

“This is a dream come true,” Dwyer said. “I grew up in Guilford. All my family is here. I’m about to retire and I thought I was going to have to live somewhere else.”

Developer Chris Widmer, State Dept. of Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno, Guilford Town Selectman Matthew T. Hoey III, and Capital for Change Director of Business Development Carla Weil celebrated Dwyer’s homeownership and the affordable housing development at a recent ribbon cutting ceremony.

One of the ten affordable and energy efficient homes being developed as part of the Great Hill Cottage Community.

The developer designed the houses to meet the US Dept. of Energy’s “Net Zero Energy Ready” program standards. The standards require that the homes have high insulation values, are airtight, and have high efficiency lighting and appliances. With the use of solar panels, the houses will produce as much energy as they consume.

The houses are being sold in a range between $230,000-$250,000 to families whose incomes are at or below the area median income. At full market rate, similar homes would have been priced at over $500,000, according to Widmer. The total cost of the mortgage, interest, taxes and homeownership fees will not exceed 30 percent of the family’s income. Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven’s Homeownership Center is collaborating with the Green Planet Company to find qualified homebuyers.

The Green Planet Company used a $15,000 grant from The Community Foundation’s Small Grant program to help offset skyrocketing lumber and materials costs. Since the successful completion of the first 2 homes, the developer has worked with the Town of Guilford to adopt a new affordable housing taxation ordinance that applies a tax abatement to the Great Hill community and other affordable housing projects in the town.

Additional funding sources include the state's Neighborhood Assistance Act (NAA) tax credits, Guilford Savings Bank and Guilford town infrastructure funds.

Do you have a long-term interest in supporting local housing nonprofits or other causes you care about? Learn about charitable funds at The Community Foundation.