Hayden Ort-Ulm stands beside his packed bicycle at Canal Place in Cumberland, the western terminus of the C&O Canal. A graduating senior at Ithaca College and resident of Stringtown, Pa., he will pedal from Providence, R.I., to Seattle this summer.
CUMBERLAND — After two years of researching a cause, Hayden Ort-Ulm will ride his bicycle across the U.S. to promote affordable housing as part of the Bike & Build program.The graduating senior at Ithaca College and a resident of Stringtown, Pa., will have his environmental studies degree in hand when he leaves from Providence, R.I., this summer headed for Seattle.
The group of 30 or so volunteers, one of 11 groups, will contribute to building affordable homes in select communities. They also spread awareness of their cause, giving presentations on different problems facing affordable housing in America and solutions on how to fix the problems, such as increasing minimum wage so that families can afford housing in addition to food, gasoline and other necessities.
Ort-Ulm became interested in the creation of affordable housing through deconstruction of an old home with materials going to Fingerlakes Re-Use, where they could be bought at a fraction of the cost of new materials, thereby making a new home much less expensive to build.
Having a desire to bike across the country, he decided to further his cause by applying to Bike & Build.
“Although I have struggled with money at times, I can only imagine what it is like to have a family and no place of your own to call home,” Ort-Ulm said. “Bike and Build is setting out to fix that.”
The houses built are affordable because there is no profit factored into the sale price, and there is no interest on the mortgage of the home, according to Ort-Ulm.Each rider must raise $4,500 by May 1 and Ort-Ulm has provided more than $500 to his own cause. Online donations can be made at www.bikeandbuild.org. Click on “Donate” and select “Hayden Ort-Ulm” from the drop-down menu. Donations are tax-deductible and a receipt will be emailed to the donor.
For each trip, 45 to 50 percent of the funds are used to fund the trip itself, with at least 50 percent donated to other youth-driven affordable housing groups throughout the country such as Habitat for Humanity. In 2001, 4.8 million low- to moderate-income families spent half of their income on housing alone. In 2010, the number increased to 9.5 million families, according to Bike & Build.
Affordable housing is most often a one-family home with the location chosen by the family. The homes built blend in well with the surrounding homes in style and architecture and often improve property values of older homes in their neighborhoods. Donors can be a part of the ride by following blogs to keep up with the riders’ location.