Mayor Ken Koelsch digs a shovel full of dirt at a Wednesday dedication ceremony for Jackie Street Cottages, an affordable housing project in Lemon Creek. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

Mayor Ken Koelsch digs a shovel full of dirt at a Wednesday dedication ceremony for Jackie Street Cottages, an affordable housing project in Lemon Creek. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

Student project lays foundation for trade careers, affordable housing

Jackie Street Cottages, in Lemon Creek, are student-built and priced for low- and middle-income families

At a local job site in Lemon Creek, university and high school students are laying a foundation for their careers by learning carpentry skills.

Their work isn’t just supporting their own future. It’ll also address Juneau’s lack of affordable housing.

Jackie Street Cottages, a seven-home subdivision next to Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School, held a dedication ceremony on Wednesday ahead of much of the work to develop the new neighborhood. The project is a collaboration with the Juneau Housing Trust, the Juneau School District and the University of Alaska Southeast.

Justin Fantasia, UAS Assistant Professor of Construction Technology, said the first single-family cottage should be finished and on the market by fall of 2019.

The students are learning basic construction skills like rough framing while working on a service project that will provide a home at a lower-than-typical rate. A win-win, he said.

“Service should be an integral part of everybody’s learning experience. Training the trades is a big push nationwide,” he said.

Through the collaboration, the Juneau Housing Trust is able to sell their homes for $255,000, about $100,000 less than a typical single-family home in Juneau, said the trust’s Tamara Rowcroft. It’s the unique way Jackie Street Cottages have come about that allow them to do so, she explained.

The Juneau City and Borough of Juneau made the land available for sale to the trust, a not for profit project developer. The trust manages the land through a community land trust.

They’re in the process of identifying low and middle income home buyers to purchase the homes. The trust will help them establish credit and navigate the mortgage profit with a separate lender. Homeowners pay their mortgage and a small lease fee to own the home as long as they want.

A lot of work remains in both home and rental markets to make Juneau a more affordable place to live, Rowcroft said. She hopes Jackie Street Cottages will help.

Students from both Juneau-Douglas High School and UAS work on the homes (students from TMHS can also take the course at the crosstown school). A pair of foundations are already up, and the students have erected two small garages next to them.

JDHS sophomore Khayl Johnson said he’s learning skills to help his dad soon build a cabin in Hoonah. He said he plans to pursue a career in the trades.

“This will really help me prepare for that, learn the basic little things,” Johnson said.

Carpenters Local Union 1281 representative Kirk Perisich said the union is looking to hire, and these students are just the type of people they want.

Perisich handed out mock checks to students showing what they’d make as a first-year apprentice ($920 gross pay for a 40 hour workweek). He said the job market for carpenters in Juneau right now favors carpenters. That’s not typical of fall, he said.

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

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