Date set for Habitat project to start
Published 8:30 am Friday, November 11, 2022
The affordable housing project in Charlotte County now has a location and a start date. Piedmont Habitat for Humanity plans to build three homes in Keysville in 2023. But first, they have to finish up work in Prince Edward County.
Last week, we gave an update on the operation, which is set to be completed early next year. Now, we have dates and locations in Charlotte to talk about. But first, let’s explain how this came about.
FINDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Based on a Dec. 2021 report by Virginia’s Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission (JLARC), 29% of households in the state struggle with housing costs. Nearly half of those spent more than 50% of their income on housing, both rental and owned. And as mentioned, it’s a problem here locally. The study found 67% of households struggling with housing costs either lived in this region or in Northern Virginia.
So what’s causing this problem? Housing prices keep rising. The median home sales price here in Virginia climbed 28% over the last five years, to $270,000 at the end of 2021. In the last three years alone, Virginia’s supply of “starter” homes has dropped by 40%, says the Virginia Realtors Association. Enter the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).
Created in 1972 by the Virginia General Assembly, the VHDA is a self-supporting nonprofit. Their goal is to help people get into affordable housing through different programs. In July 2021, five months before the JLARC study came out, Virginia Housing launched a new program. Instead of working with individuals, they gave $40 million total to planning districts across the state. Each one received a specific amount and a deadline, when they needed to have construction finished.
The CRC, a planning district that includes Charlotte, Prince Edward, Buckingham, Lunenburg and Amelia counties, received $2 million. That money was meant to build 20 homes, a project with a deadline of June 2024.
To help meet that deadline, the CRC reached out to several partners, asking for project ideas. The group received six applications and ended up awarding money to three projects, partnering with Piedmont Habitat for Humanity, the town of Blackstone and Smyth Properties LLC. Piedmont will build 11 homes, the town of Blackstone will help build three and Smyth will build six.
Habitat’s funding for 11 homes will now cover the cost for three modular homes in Charlotte County.
“Three will be going out in the town of Crewe in Nottoway and three in Charlotte County,” said Sam Rabon. He works as Director of Resource Development for Piedmont Habitat. “We just have to do the site development with some land clearing and get the foundations put in, so they’re ready.”
That work will be completed over the next six months. First, Habitat will work to finish five homes in Prince Edward County. Then they’ll turn to focus on Crewe and finally, later in 2023, they’ll work on three homes in Charlotte County.
Rabon said these three lots in Keysville will be the start, with more projects coming to the county in 2024.
“The lots in Charlotte are big enough,” Rabon said. “That’s actually where we have the most space, the most opportunity.”
Now when we say a home will be placed, we mean exactly that. Habitat is trying out a different method of assembling a house, thanks to some help from Cardinal Homes. The Charlotte County based company is building modular homes, prefabricated buildings that come in sections. Rabon said in this case, with a deadline to meet, modular homes just made sense.
“It allows us to serve more families in the same timeframe,” Rabon said. “We’ll still be building homes from the ground up. But we’re working with partners. These are built to the same standards as we would if built on site. We feel really good about the product.”
STILL ROOM FOR VOLUNTEERS
Even with the prefabricated work, Rabon said there will be plenty of work left for volunteers.
“There will still be plenty of opportunities once the homes have been delivered,” Rabon said. “There will still be work to be completed by Habitat construction staff and volunteers, including finish carpentry, cabinets, porches, and landscaping.”