Fern Street Cottages

We are building an affordable, community-focused neighborhood that is a first-of-its-kind in Stillwater. 

The need for affordable housing is a global crisis but it is a unique challenge for Stillwater.  More than half of the renters in Stillwater live in housing that is not affordable. The number of households paying rent and mortgages greater than 35 percent of gross income is between 40 and 50 percent higher than Oklahoma state averages. (US Census Data) Our college population and rise in popularity of short term rental properties has driven rental costs to $500/bedroom.  Working parents making minimum wage simply cannot afford decent housing in our community.

A typical new build home by Stillwater Habitat is 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 1180 square feet. An average Habitat mortgage payment, including escrow, for such a home is $600 -a vast contrast to a $1500 market rent in the area.  Habitat homes build generational wealth, free up monthly finances for paying down debt services, medical costs and unexpected expenses and frees up funds for extracurricular activities for children.  Each home is built by over 200 volunteers from all ages and experience levels – demonstrating our mission to bring people together to build homes, community and hope.

Historically, we have built new homes on donated land.  This typically means individual lots scattered throughout Stillwater, but in 2007 a generous donation of property was made on 8th Street and Stallard streets.  Habitat developed the lots and built 14 homes along the intersection of the two streets. What happened as a result was a spontaneous Habitat community.  Homeowners tell us stories of backyard cookouts, mowing each other’s lawns during times of medical need, kids exploring & playing in the neighborhood together and neighbors feeling a sense of connection and camaraderie that comes from a shared experience- the Habitat homeownership process. 

Seeing this organic and positive outcome and foreseeing a lack of space to build homes on, we became creative and started exploring means to house as many Habitat families on what land we own.  An undeveloped piece of property to the south of our ReStore was a natural place to start. This piece of property could accommodate 7-8 homes on traditional residential lots and homes would face busy streets. But we had a vision for more than homes connected only by proximity. Working with our engineer, we designed a 14 home pocket neighborhood using urban planning concepts to foster community among residents. A central street serves as entrance and provides limited car parking. Each home is connected through sidewalks and all front porches face the center of the neighborhood rather than city streets. A neighborhood playground and community gardens are planned. Neighbors will connect at central mailboxes, trash center and neighborhood storm shelter. Smaller lots will accommodate more families and mean less lawn maintenance. This neighborhood will be the first of its kind in Stillwater. It will include a neighborhood covenant and homeowner’s association – providing the first of its kind leadership opportunities for residents. This neighborhood will be a model for affordable, community focused housing in our area.

We are proud to have plans completed, permitted and ready to begin construction. Our community is excited to support our efforts and see this vision realized. Students, churches, financial institutions, individuals and businesses have all come together to support this project. The infrastructure costs for the development – gas, electric, sewer, water, paving, demolition and site prep are approximately $450,000. Stillwater Habitat has raised nearly half of those funds and is ready to break ground on phase 1.