Friday, July 13, 2007

Kentucky venture-capital firm pushes complete plumbing-and-electric unit to improve housing

Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. invests in southeastern Kentucky, one of America's poorer regions. The area has much substandard housing, often so categorized because of plumbing issues. Now the venture-capital firm has started a business of its own, to address the housing problem and eventually create jobs.

Kentucky Highlands is building and installing “housing cores,” which have a finished kitchen, bathroom and laundry room ready to be hooked up to plumbing and electricity. It plans to demonstrate the unit at an “extreme build” home project with 150 volunteers in McCreary County on Monday, the sixth house with one of the cores. The company plans to build 14 more, for a total of 20, but says the units can also be used to upgrade houses that lack modern plumbing; it says there are 17,000 such homes in Appalachian Kentucky.

The cores installed so far have been built by contractors. The company hopes to develop a market for the cores and build a factory to construct them and hire people from the region, said Elmer Parlier, its vice president for investments. Even without a factory, “It would increase the quantity and quality of affordable housing in the area, increase homeownership opportunities in KHIC’s service area and create jobs while providing construction skills training,” said Jerry Rickett, president of the company.

“Providing all the mechanical parts of the house in a factory-built unit ... will make it easier for volunteer groups, such as Habitat for Humanity, to build houses because most of the complex plumbing and electrical tasks have been done before work at the site begins,” KHIC said in a news release.

No comments: