Alumni Founded Epicenter Recognized for Creative Rural Housing Initiative
Founded in 2009 by APLA grads Samuel Bassett (BArch ’08 – AKA Jack Forinash), Maria Sykes (BArch ’08) and Rand Pinson (BArch ’08) the idea Epicenter was founded in the experiences of the three designers during their time as AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTAs), an experience which brought them to Green River, Utah. Determined to provide affordable housing assistance, explore economic development solutions, and improve communications and resources in Green River, Epicenter was formed as a non profit that is co-directed by Jack and Maria, and housed in a historic building in downtown Green River. The Epicenter’s mission is “to accentuate Green River’s rural pride and pioneering spirit” while providing “housing and business resources” and promoting the arts while learning and collaborating with the community; one method Epicenter employs is through developing creative initiatives like the “Fix It First” program-a program specifically tailored to respond to the Green River housing plan. This year, at the Annual Utah Housing Matters Conference held in September in Park City, Utah, Epicenter received an award for the “Fix it First” program as Rural Project of the Year.
From the press release:
This year the awards committee selected the Epicenter “Fix It First” program as Rural Project of the year. After years of investing their lives in Green River, the young professionals at the Epicenter learned from the community to tailor programs for the specific needs and social environment. The Fix It First program is in response to the city’s Housing Plan, completed in 2013, which determined that 45.7% of the homes in Green River were considered deteriorated or dilapidated and in need of repairs. As a town with high homeownership, an aging population and conservative political biases traditional solutions were hard to implement and “hand-outs” were discouraged by the small town lifestyle. Epicenter formed Fix It First to be a program funded by private dollars instead of tax dollars, repaid by clients through affordable micro-loans and solving the defined need based in data exhibited in the city’s housing plan.