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Genesis Increases Commitment to Urban Redevelopment Projects in Benton Harbor

Genesis supplies 64 modular homes for new HOPE VI redevelopment
Company develops apprentice construction training program to provide employable skills to relocated residents
Program graduation coincided with first Genesis modular home installation  in which graduates were crew-members

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., September 11, 2006 – Genesis Homes, a member of the Champion family of homebuilders, the largest nationwide builder of modular homes, today announced its homes have been chosen for a HOPE VI “Bridges of Opportunity” urban redevelopment project in Benton Harbor, Mich.   As part of this HOPE VI initiative, Genesis developed a construction training program, for qualifying relocated residents, held at its Topeka, Ind. plant.  The first group of HOPE VI construction training program candidates graduated Thursday, September 7, and was part of the crew that installed the first Genesis modular home that afternoon.

HOPE VI is a national initiative to eliminate severely distressed public housing.  Genesis Homes, its developer-partner Star Development and Financial Corporation of Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Douglas Company of Holland, Ohio began work on this project with HOPE VI in 2004.  At that time, a HOPE VI revitalization grant was awarded to the city of Benton Harbor by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help replace Benton Harbor’s Whitfield I apartment complex, which had been deemed unlivable.  Since then, approximately 70 families from this complex were relocated throughout Benton Harbor, while new housing is built. 

A part of the HOPE VI “Bridges of Opportunity” redevelopment will include 64 one- and two-story Genesis modular residences that will be installed on sites chosen and developed by Star Development Corporation and the Cornerstone Alliance, Benton Harbor’s Community and Economic Development Organization.  These homes will first be made available to the relocated Whitfield I residents, pending applicant approval by the Benton Harbor Housing Commission and a designated management company.

The Genesis modular homes will range in size from 1,248 square feet to 1,768 square feet, with full basements, three or four bedrooms, and two or two-and-a-half baths. The first modular home was installed Thursday, and future homes are expected to be installed at a rate of three to four per week.

“Modular construction is ideal for urban redevelopment projects because impact on the local environment is minimized,” said Kevin Flaherty, vice-president of sales and marketing for Champion’s Genesis Homes.  “Since 80 percent of a home’s assembly occurs in a factory-controlled environment, a home can be installed on-site in a short amount of time, and with little construction traffic.  Each home is also built to the same local building codes that govern site-built homes.”

This is the fourth time Genesis homes have been selected by veteran developer Star Development for urban redevelopment projects in the past several years.  Genesis previously supplied a total of 113 modular homes for two communities in Detroit and one Star-Genesis project in Benton Harbor.

The HOPE VI Apprentice Training Program
An important component of the Benton Harbor HOPE VI grant is a Community Supportive Services requirement to provide employable skills training for individuals in the affected community. 

“We view the construction industry as one with high-growth potential in the Benton Harbor market,” said Candace Elders, community relations manager for Michigan Works!, a HOPE VI partner that matches skilled labor with local industry needs. 

Genesis Homes developed an intensive, four-week apprentice program to provide construction skills to selected workers in rough framing, drywall finishing, siding, and roofing.  The Company will offer six sessions of the program throughout the year, training four candidates in each session. 

HOPE VI offered the construction apprentice training program to interested individuals from the former Whitfield I apartment complex.  Six candidates, all women, participated in an initial two-week, pre-construction orientation and life-skills training phase which included day-long sessions on such topics as career planning, job readiness, health and nutrition, conflict resolution, financial management, job expectations and construction safety.   Four women continued on through Genesis’s four-week training program, with two women continuing in alternate careers.

“These four women exhibited an extremely high level of enthusiasm for the program,” said Steve Kondrchek, field operations manager, central region, Champion Homes.  “They were up at 4 a.m. each day to be at our Topeka, Ind. plant for the 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift.  Their attitudes were exemplary.  Those of us who had the opportunity to meet and work with these women at the plant and in Benton Harbor are inspired by their collective commitment and strong work ethic.”

Patricia Hurse, director of HOPE VI for the Benton Harbor Housing Commission agreed.  “We hope the next group of trainees will be as energetic and ‘on fire’ as this first group of ladies.”

The first group of HOPE VI construction training program candidates graduated during a HOPE VI ceremony held last Thursday.   The graduates were:
Patrice Griffin
Mylkia Davis
Katrina Parker
Shenita Jones

Last Thursday, the graduates put their new skills to the test as part of a crew setting up the first of 64 Genesis modular homes to be installed at sites in Benton Harbor.  This home, a three-bedroom, two-bath ranch is located at 870 Monroe Street. 

“We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than Genesis,” concluded Greg Shushman, HOPE VI case manager, who worked with the four candidates.

“Our training program provides Genesis with an opportunity to give back to the communities,” says Kevin Flaherty, vice-president of sales and marketing for Champion’s Genesis Homes.  “We are pleased to be able to assist individuals and provide them invaluable job training.”

About Hope VI
The HOPE VI program was developed as a result of recommendations by National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, which was charged with proposing a National Action Plan to eradicate severely distressed public housing.    The Commission recommended revitalization in three general areas, physical improvements, management improvements, and social and community services to address resident needs.

About Champion Enterprises
Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Champion Enterprises, Inc. is a leader in factory-built construction, operating 36 manufacturing facilities in North America and the United Kingdom, and partnering with over 3,000 independent retailers, builders and developers, including 900 retailers that are part of the Champion Home Center retail distribution network.  Through its family of homebuilders, the Company produces manufactured and modular homes, as well as modular buildings for military and commercial applications.  Further information can be found using the company’s website, www.championhomes.com.

 

Christine Fisher, for Champion
PR director, pushtwentytwo
248-335-9500 x30
cfisher@pushtwentytwo.com

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