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Purpose Prize Fellow 2010
Houel is bringing economic vitality and a sense of community to urban Connecticut by connecting environmentally friendly businesses and a newly trained work force.
Adrienne Houel is tackling two of the most pressing needs of low-income urban neighborhoods: clean, affordable housing and steady employment. First, Houel helped create and now runs an affordable housing development outfit in Connecticut called Fairfield County Housing Partnership Inc., which specializes in environmentally friendly, or green, building.
In 2006 she launched the Fairfield, Conn.-based Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises Inc. Green Team, which partners with small businesses to create job opportunities in the growing green sector and then trains unemployed residents to fill those jobs.
It was after 28 years of raising a family abroad while working in real estate development that Houel decided to return home to create new solutions to the economic plight that plagued her hometown. Under the leadership of the City of Bridgeport, Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises is partnering with the University of Connecticut’s school of agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other local private entities to develop a municipal composting facility.
Houel is working to start resident-owned and operated businesses associated with the composting process that will ultimately hire employees from Green Team programs.
“I view the support of small businesses – and the focus on employment in the sectors of the green economy that we have chosen – as essential to the vision of community and family self-sufficiency,” explains Houel.
Twenty-seven green jobs have been created in areas such as carpentry and weatherization (making homes more energy efficient), and 125 people have been trained in three years through the program.