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Renovation starts on county's housing units

LaPorte Group CEO Ben Logue, vice president of community development banking Beth Palmer and Robin Kemker of Utah Housing Corporation, break ground for the Avalon House project in Helper.

Sun Advocate reporter

Carbon County commenced renovation of the Avalon House and Newhouse at symbolic groundbreaking ceremonies May 28 in Helper and Price.

The two housing units will benefit the chronically homeless population of rural Utah.

The facilities will provide a total of 51 housing unitss. The local buildings are the first renovated facilities in Utah to provide transitional and permanent housing that addresses the needs of the chronically homeless in rural settings.

"These projects are more than two years in the making and consisted of a lot of hard work by a lot of people," said Price Mayor Joe Piccolo. "We have addressed the concerns of our community by educating them that we do indeed have a homeless problem and have seen a transformation of attitudes about these projects.  Now we have a feeling of neighbor helping neighbor and our community is embracing both Avalon House and Newhouse."

The two facilities were combined into a single $5 million eco-friendly project.

"Both projects will include solar arrays and Energy-Star rated appliances. These are just a few of the green building techniques employed by the LaPorte Group," said Ben Logue, president and chief executive officer"The Avalon and Newhouse will add 51 units to the low-income housing stock, while also infusing the local economy with a multi-million dollar project and employment opportunities."

In 2004, Utah embraced a nationwide movement and is implementing the state's housing works strategy end chronic homelessness within 10 years.

Under the model, the chronically homeless go from the streets or homeless shelters into apartments. The model also provides job training and supports to help tenants re-integrate with society. Tenants pay 30 percent of their income for rent.

Utah's homeless task force and 10-year action plan are managed by the state's division of housing and community development.

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