Lexington Farms – a nearly completed subdivision of 32 single-family homes in Jerseyville, Illinois – represents a small but promising step toward the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s plan to add almost 2,500 affordable rental homes to the market.
Each home in the development, which is about 40 miles north of St. Louis, includes 1,230-sq.-ft. of interior space and leases for $590 a month to families earning at or below 60% of the area median income (up to $40,980 for a family of four). Tenants who stay at Lexington Farms for at least 15 years can apply to purchase, on favorable terms, the property they’ve been leasing.
Wind power on the Plains
Another sweetener here, as we noted in September when the project broke ground, is that the homes are designed to operate at net zero energy – or at least as close to it as occupant behavior allows.
The builder, Capstone Development Group, teamed up with two other companies in the region, MidAmerica Solar and Sachs Electric, to blend solid construction and renewable-energy features in ways that were both economical and effective. Exterior walls are insulated to R-21 and attics to R-49, and air leakage rates are low. The homes are equipped with 7.2-kW photovoltaic systems and mast-mounted wind turbines that can deliver up to 1 kW.
PV panels and wind turbines also power the community’s 16 LED streetlights, whose battery packs have enough storage capacity to power the lights for about seven days.
As affordable-housing projects go, Lexington Farms might be a bit unusual, but other communities like it could soon emerge in the state: the Illinois Housing Development Authority imposes green-building requirements on affordable-housing developers who want federal low-income-housing tax credits. So as the rest of the 2,500 affordable rental homes slowly emerge on the Illinois landscape, don’t be surprised if more than a few lay claim to a high level of energy efficiency.