The Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family was created to address the urgent needs for affordable housing recognizing that affordable housing is critical to a healthy, sustainable community. The Stardust Center uses the tools of research, community engagement, education, and public forums to raise awareness and build capacity to address the needs for quality affordable homes.
Phase 1—Develop affordable housing
The opening of the ASU Stardust Center in January 2005 was made possible through a generous gift from Jerry Bisgrove and the Stardust Foundation. In its initial phase, the Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family provided technical and design assistance to Arizona communities to help them develop affordable housing opportunities. The Center worked across the state – from urban projects in the Valley of the Sun to rural areas such as the Navajo Nation Reservation – serving the needs of single and multi-generational families and first-time homeowners. During this time, the Center completed 40 residential housing and research projects and now provides a public archive of its affordable housing designs and data.
Phase 2—Empower students to help build affordable, sustainable communities
In 2011, the ASU Stardust Center shifted focus from providing technical services to providing educational services. The goal of “Stardust 2.0” is to advance long-term educational aspects of housing affordability, family well-being and sustainability rather than offering one-time technical assistance. Stardust 2.0 has engaged students in ASU courses, workshops and internships designed to create Arizona workers knowledgeable about these issues. For example, the Center partnered with ASU’s School of Sustainability and College of Public Service and Community Solutions to develop and offer two new courses–“Sustainability and Affordable Housing” and “Sustainability and Social and Family Welfare”. Working with the Del E. Webb School of Construction, the Center offered ASU students specialized training on energy efficiency and environmental design applicable to affordable housing in preparation for attaining LEED certification. And, the Stardust Student Fellows program has provided students with opportunities to learn first-hand about affordable housing and families while providing a public service via internships with Arizona non-profit organizations such as A New Leaf, Trellis, and Native American Connections.
Another aspect of Stardust 2.0’s mission is providing public education. It has done so by regularly sponsoring or co-sponsoring high-visibility, large group presentations by internationally renown speakers on topics such living and working in communities of the future, homelessness, equity in urban life, and poverty.
Since its inception in 2004, the ASU Stardust Center has built model homes, advised Arizona NGOs, non-profits and cities on affordable housing design, and has helped build a future workforce for Arizona that can design and implement affordable housing and empower families, a vital aspect of achieving economic and social sustainability in the Valley and the state.
Stardust 2.0 Guiding Principles
The mission of Stardust 2.0 is guided by these principles:
- Well-designed affordable housing is fundamental to the sustainability of every city and community. Affordability covers a range of household incomes, demographics, and cultural conditions that are underserved in a growing number of cities and communities in Arizona.
- Well-designed affordable housing should ideally be environmentally sustainable; responsive to cultural, social, and household needs; enhances and becomes an asset to the greater community; and is valued by residents; the Stardust Center supports student-led activities that strengthen the ability of families to obtain, remain in and manage their homes.
- Working with the community and getting their participation in design and planning decisions is key to successful development; the Stardust Center provides opportunities for students to engage directly with the community.
- Value-added knowledge and evidence-informed practice and teaching are instrumental in affecting changes in policy and practice as well as creating the future workforce necessary to develop sustainable communities.
- Expanding public awareness of the challenges and opportunities of affordable housing is essential to strengthening the community’s commitment to affordable housing.