Bringing Affordable Housing to Dickinson | VideoAlex Hagan | 5/25/2012
Ten years ago, Mark Penna did not know he would be involved in the middle of an oil boom. Now he finds himself building houses in the heart of an oil boom after the slow economy back home in the Gulf Coast.
"Got here and realized there was a demand for housing, affordable housing and I have always focused on the home owners that other builders didn`t have time for."
His passion was always to build housing, so after a brief stint in the oil field, he joined forces with Blaine Dukart to pursue his dreams.
"We formed together a company called First Home Builders and that`s the market we`re going after, you know, is the workforce housing. True blue collar that needs that 150 to 139 house."
For Penna and Dukart, providing long term affordable housing is key for the growing workforce.
"If you look at a Walmart worker and a Runnings worker and a bank teller they need 150 or less to get in there," Penna said.
Both contractors find themselves in the middle of a housing crunch in Dickinson. They could easily build big houses that would also sell, but that`s not what the pair wants to do.
"Our goal is 11 to 1,200 square feet per floor with unfinished basements or slab on grade in and that`s the market we`d like to stay in for good," Dukart said.
They say there`s too much housing priced above that price line.
"Everybody is taking care of the 200 and the 220`s. If you go to the realtors and look at their MLS listings, there`s nothing for the 150`s or less," Penna said.
They say providing even a few affordable homes can make a huge difference for the housing crunch.
"I`m just one small person. Our company is just one small little sand in the big picture of it but hopefully we can do a big part in the community," Penna said.
Penna and Dukart plan to keep building affordable housing as long as the need keeps growing in the community.
Not only are the two contractors trying to provide cheaper housing for the growing workforce, they plan to build the first affordable green construction house in the city.