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Cranbrook grads build distinctive single-family home in Poletown

One might be forgiven for thinking that St. Aubin  north of Gratiot is an unlikely place for new housing development. After all, the area has an urban prairie vibe about it.

On the other hand, the location is just blocks from Eastern Market and the promising Dequindre Cut trail.

Two graduates of the master's program at the Cranbook Academy of Art, Matthew Miller and Thomas Gardner, clearly see potential in the neighborhood. They are hard at work building their thesis project, an affordable single family house at St. Aubin and Pierce.

The budget for the 900-square-foot home is $60,000. Major savings are coming from the construction techniques -- the cinder block walls and rubber-coated roof are more typically seen on commercial buildings. Plus, the labor has been an all-volunteer affair.

The first floor will center around a galley kitchen and the second has two bedrooms, each with a balcony and four windows, and a bathroom. The dwelling is small by today's McMansion standards, but it will be a sizable upgrade for its future occupants, a mother with four children who live in a one-bedroom flat.

The future homeowner was vetted from a group of parents at nearby Campbell Elementary, a school at which Miller had previously volunteered. The owner will be responsible for insurance, maintenance, utilities and taxes for 10 years, at which time the home will be deeded to her. Miller points out that equity in the home will be enough to put a child through college at that point. "We hope this house is a stepping ground out of poverty for this family," he says.

Just over half of the cost of construction has been raised. Anyone interested in  contributing can contact Miller at 248-318-0747 or miller@housingoperative.org.

Read more about the house and view a photo gallery here.

Source: Matthew Miller, HousingOperative
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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