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Strawbale in the city.

Strawbale construction is being used in an innovative affordable housing project in inner city Minneapolis, Minnesota. A collaboration between Southside Neighborhood Housing Services (SNHS) and the Community Eco-design Network (CEN), the project will construct a modular, three bedroom, 1,300 square foot strawbale house.

As part of its community economic development efforts, CEN trains residents in prefabrication work and on-site construction of buildings. So much of the house will be prefabricated, beginning this month, with site work to follow. Completion is scheduled for May.

The project has received financial support from various sources including the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, the Central Neighborhood Improvement Association Neighborhood Revitalization Program, and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. Due to the low cost building technology utilized, this affordable housing project requires about half of the subsidy that a newly constructed inner city home would require. SNHS has secured financing for the project, including the low interest mortgage for the buyer. A Buy a Bale fundraising campaign has also been launched where people can buy one or more bales. Proceeds from this campaign will be used to pay the predevelopment costs of the projects, including architect fees.

CEN has been researching and developing strawbale construction techniques and technologies over the past three years and has recently commercialized its unique strawbale construction technique. It assists communities and citizens in incorporating sustainable, ecological designs into affordable housing options. It has four years experience developing innovative building techniques and has pioneered efforts to incorporate greenhouses and other biosystems into buildings.

Since its inception in 1976, SNHS has pursued the goal of neighbourhood revitalization and self-sufficiency in south Minneapolis. To accomplish this goal, it has invested over $37 million for loans and grants to low and moderate income families to purchase and renovate new or existing homes or to maintain their homes if they are already homeowners. In addition to financing, SNHS also provides rehabilitation and financial counseling services, as well as home buyer workshops.


Eric D. Hart

Community Eco-design Network

PO Box 6241

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406

Phone: (612) 306-2326




Phone: (612) 823-5216

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Author:McLeod, Rachel
Publication:Natural Life
Date:Mar 1, 1998
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