By Brigitta Gough
Close to 100 people gathered at 60 Cleveland Avenue in Rutland last Thursday to see a couple from New York win a home through Green Mountain Power’s House Giveaway, beating out nine other finalists for the property.
Martin Schreiner and Lucas Hough were grateful to have been chosen to live in the house, and got engaged once they found out they had won.
“We’re so excited for this opportunity and this chance to restart and to reboot,” Schreiner said.
Schreiner told the crowd that the opportunity to own a home and control their carbon footprint was not something the couple could have done in New York City, where they were renting.
Schreiner is a food blogger, marketer and part-time opera singer and his fiancé, Hough, is an assistant pathologist. Hough said Schreiner will likely get involved with local restaurants once they are settled in, and Hough plans to seek employment at Rutland Regional Medical Center working in pathology.
They are going to move into the house as soon as they can, and will be back and forth in the meantime. Thursday night was the couple’s first evening staying at the house.
The couple talked about moving to Vermont after attending a wedding in the state last fall, but Hough said it wasn’t until the person they had stayed with while visiting told their mutual friend about the competition that they really committed to the idea.
“What was just an idea changed into a completely life-changing experience,” he said. The home is a newly built energy-efficient house they will receive for free. It is equipped with solar panels, air-source heat pumps, a Tesla power wall and other energy-efficient technology. To win the home, applicants had to submit a 500-word essay explaining their interest in the home and Rutland.
GMP started construction of the house in February of this year, demolishing the house that stood there previously. The new house was finished by late June, said Steve Costello, vice president of Customer Care and GMP’s Rutland ambassador.
“This is a showcase for steps people can take, and we can help them take to reduce their carbon footprint, to reduce the cost of energy, and we’re working on that really hard and will continue to do that,” Costello said.
Although the home itself is free, they still will have property taxes to pay on it, Costello said. Along with the house, Schreiner and Hough were given a mirror made out of the frame of a window from the original house that used to stand on the lot.
The project was completed with the help of 75 to 80 businesses, many of which offered to help without being asked, Costello said.
“It was built with largely donated materials and donated labor, and all with this goal of creating something that would build this neighborhood, and build a community at large,” he said.
In addition to the home, the couple will be offered assistance getting jobs and integrating into the Rutland community.
Mayor David Allaire said the couple’s enthusiasm and passion impressed the selection committee.
“This couple brings everything to the table that we were looking for in our eventual winners,” he said, noting afterward that their passion about moving to Rutland was one of the biggest factors in the decision.
GMP President and CEO Mary Powell also announced that the nine other finalists would be awarded a $10,000 incentive to move to Rutland within the next year.
“We were so amazed by the applicants, we wanted to find a way to encourage more of them to move here,” she said in a press release.