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WNC Business

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s house design wins national contest

May 24, 2023 01:41PM ● By WNC Business
ASHEVILLE  – Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s New Heights neighborhood is home to an award-winning house design. “The Deerfield” is a single- level Aging in Place (AIP) townhome specifically designed for adults age 55+. Recently awarded Best in Accessibility in Habitat for Humanity International’s nationwide house design contest, The Deerfield is also Asheville Habitat’s only house model to earn the Gold level of Green Built certification.

The Aging in Place one-level townhomes include a full bath, kitchen, laundry, living space, 1-bedroom, and a bonus living space in the front of the home that if needed, could be closed off in the future for an in-home caregiver. The units are at-grade (zero steps), boast wide exterior and interior doorframes, and a bathroom that will accommodate a wheelchair within a 5’ radius circle. Grab bars are part of the bathroom installation, and lever door handles instead of traditional knob styles make it easier for aging hands to grasp.

Bringing the AIP house model to life was many years in the making. In 2018, Asheville Habitat brought together a group of stakeholders including experts in Universal Design and elder care to identify key elements and develop a product that would suit the needs of aging adults.

Support from Deerfield and its Charitable Foundation provided the funding for the research needed to successfully develop senior-oriented housing and sponsored the first eight AIP units, located in Habitat’s New Heights neighborhood. The unit’s name, The Deerfield, is a show of deep appreciation for their partnership and generosity.

Chris Dismukes, Board Chair of Deerfield Charitable Foundation, reflected, “We were inspired to discover a way for Deerfield to partner with Habitat to help low-income older adults buy a home of their own. The Deerfield Charitable Foundation was in its infancy and this was a perfect inaugural project for us to work out with Habitat.”  
TightLines Designs, an architectural firm out of Raleigh, NC, designed the 744 square foot AIP units using eco-friendly building systems which helps make this housing model an affordable and sustainable housing solution for the homeowners.

Kay Ponder, a first-time homebuyer at age 60, shared, “Every time I had an increase in income, there was a greater increase in the cost of housing. I had pretty much given up hope that I would ever be able to buy a house…I saw this program [Habitat] as a way that I could have a way to age in place in a safe community with safe and decent housing.”

Older adults comprise 21% of Buncombe County’s population but have limited access to affordable housing options designed to meet their needs. “Asheville Habitat is proud to expand our product mix to even better reflect the community we serve. The AIP model will continue to be built alongside detached homes and two-story townhomes, solidifying Asheville Habitat’s commitment to building multi-generational communities,” remarked Andy Barnett, Executive Director.

About Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity
Founded in 1983, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity was the first Habitat affiliate in North Carolina. Now serving Buncombe and Madison Counties, AAHH provides affordable homeownership and home repair programs to qualified low-income residents seeking to build a better future on the foundation of stable housing. A decent place to call home and an affordable mortgage enables Habitat homeowners to save more, invest in education, pursue opportunities, and have greater financial stability. The home repair program preserves the character, affordability, and diversity of local neighborhoods and enables long-time residents to stay in their homes. Learn more about Asheville Area Habitat and how you can get involved at

Source: Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity