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2 0 12 N E W S L E T T E R

Building simple, decent, affordable housing with low-income families and volunteers in the region of greater Charlottesville.

Habitat Launches Project 20


everal years ago, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville adopted an ambitious goal: to build at least 20 Habitat homes annually until housing poverty in our community becomes a thing of the past. “The reason for this goal is simple,” said Habitat Board Chair Jeanne McCusker. “Charlottesville has an affordable housing crisis. Though a great place to live for so many of us, our area lacks sufficient housing for the many hard-working, low-income wage earners on whom our community depends for its quality of life.” To combat this crisis – to deal with high land costs, to build more sustainably, and to help the most tenure-threatened residents of the community – we changed our approach and challenged ourselves to do better.

In the past few years, as our home production has risen from 2-3 homes annually in 2003-4 to an average of 15 over the past four years, we have focused our attention on the fundamentals of our service: improving family support, better engaging volunteers, increasing organizational efficiency and amassing a significant inventory of affordable lots. Now we are preparing to take it to another level. Project 20 is both the culmination of this multi-year endeavor to improve our internal infrastructure and the beginning of a sustained effort to generate a reliable flow of capital to enable partnerships with at least 20 hard-working families annually. This year, as we complete phase I of Sunrise, the first trailer park transformation in the nation without resident displacement, much Project 20 continued on page 7 Sunrise Park, the nation’s first trailer park transformation without resident displacement, is now home to 26 families.

The Blueprint pg 1

Message from the Executive Director


his year, as Sunrise moves toward successful completion, we turn our attention to two major initiatives: Project 20 and an extensive planning effort toward the eventual redevelopment of the

Southwood Mobile Home Park. Project 20 – or our commitment to help at least 20 families realize their homeownership dreams each year – stems from our recognition that there is much work to do

every day to allow this community to reach its full potential. Thousands of our hard-working neighbors still struggle to provide safe, decent, affordable housing for their families. Southwood – 100 acres in the urban growth area – presents this community with perhaps its best remaining opportunity to make substandard housing conditions a relic of the past. Both initiatives are driven by our passion for serving our Partner Families, a passion fueled by their own heroic efforts to build a better future for themselves and their children. In this issue of The Blueprint, you’ll learn about Pamellar Moon, an incredible woman who is the first graduate of our new two phase family selection program. Our Board of Directors created this program two years ago to help us extend a helping hand more deeply into the community, to reach out to willing partners who have a drive to succeed but who have been buried by a poor credit history. The program assigns a one-on-one credit counselor to partners like Pamellar to help change habits and form a plan to break the often debilitating cycle of debt. Given a second chance through this program, Pamellar didn’t just survive, she thrived. She went to work immediately, scrimping and saving, paying down debt, earning sweat equity hours and, more quickly than we could have ever imagined, purchasing a new condominium at Sunrise. You’ll also read about Johanna Price, the first resident of Southwood to earn her way to homeownership. After ten years of sharing a drafty trailer with her two children, Johanna decided enough was enough. She combined accumulated leave time from her job with spring break to allow her to work around the clock on her sweat equity hours, making her eligible to purchase a home in record time. But, she didn’t stop there. Once in her new home at Habitat’s first mixedincome neighborhood, Paton Street in Fifeville, she quickly assumed a leadership position as a member of the community homeowners association board of directors. She is now giving back by helping the neighborhood reach its full potential. It is my most sincere hope that reading The Blueprint will inspire you to join us in whatever way you see fit – as a volunteer, donor or advocate – to help foster a sense of hope in the hearts of more wonderful neighbors like Pamellar and Johanna. Your support will help us continue to build additional, complete communities where Habitat Partner Families, market rate home purchasers and former trailer park residents can live side by side, in neighborhoods where the whole is greater than the sum of their parts. Sincerely, Dan Rosensweig

Board of Directors 2012–2013 Jeanne McCusker, Chair Katherine Brooks, Vice-Chair Doug Ford, Secretary Mike Schafer, Treasurer Kathleen Ball Steve Bowers Wendy Brown Melba Campbell Rev. Albert Connette John Dodge Andrew Dracopoli Neal Harris Katrina Hunter Marcia Joseph Larry McElwain Tim Sims Emily Snelling Reg Woods Peter Wurzer Advisory Council George Beller Scheline Crutchfield Jane Dittmar Pamela Edmonds Tussi Kluge David Kudravetz Larry Martin Bruce Murray Hunter Smith Ted Weschler Habitat Staff Main Office Shelley Cole Laurie Curtin John Desmond Katie Geisshuesler Ryan Jacoby Staley Micken Sara Parrish Dan Rosensweig Lynne Runkle Construction Dominorue Fowler Ken Jollofsky Steven Li, Intern Steven Luck Morgan Reitz, Intern Clay Scott, Intern Habitat Store Susan Artz Matt Berman Halsey Blake-Scott Paul Leshay Larry Scott Southwood Rush Bailey Michelle Crawford Dick Goodin, Intern Nelson Lopez, Intern Anne Ternes Sunrise Caitlin Riopel The Blueprint Editors: Katie Geisshuesler & Sara Parrish Design: Rick Bickhart Photos: Habitat Staff Printed on 100% Recycled Paper

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Habitat Homeowner an Inspiration for Other Southwood Residents Instead, Johanna applied for home ownership through Habitat in order to make an investment in their future. In record time, she completed her sweat equity hours and worked with volunteers to build her new home at Paton Street, Habitat’s first mixed-income community. On a cold, but joyous day in January of 2011, she celebrated the dedication of her new row home with her family, friends and well-wishers from the community. Since that time, she has assumed a leadership role at Paton Street as a board member of the homeowners association. When asked what she might say to Southwood residents considering home ownership, she sighs and then smiles. “It’s hard work, but it sure pays off. Our home is secure and we don’t worry when big storms blow through. More importantly, my kids love having their own space and I’ve made an investment in their future.” I


hen proud Habitat homeowner Johanna Price says she hopes her former neighbors at Southwood will “hop on board” the bus as the neighborhood redevelops, she speaks from experience. Johanna is a hard worker who has driven a bus for Albemarle County Schools for the past 12 years. She spent 10 of those years at Southwood, where she and her son Jerry and daughter Moesha shared tight quarters in a run-down trailer. “Even though I owned my trailer, I someThe Price Family times put off repairs because it didn’t seem worth it to spend money on something constantly losing value,” Price says. “If one of the kids had a friend over, the other had to sleep with me or on the sofa. We needed more space, but I didn’t want to write a check every month to an apartment landlord and have nothing to show for it later.”

Two Phase Program Provides Second Chance to Partner Families


amellar Moon is the first graduate of Habitat’s new two phase Partner Family program that was born out of our recognition that poor credit is often the

biggest stumbling block to families escaping generational poverty. In order to reach deeper and provide a hand up to those local residents whose credit history has stalled their ability to achieve housing and financial stability, families selected into this program are given additional time to complete their sweat equity, are assigned a one-on-one credit counselor and are required to devise a solid spending plan that will allow them to clear up debt in a sustainable manner. Once their credit issues start to resolve, the families then begin to earn sweat equity, save Pamellar Moon

for a down payment and attend formal homeowner classes alongside other Habitat families. Working with her credit counselor, Jonathan Agop from Wells Fargo Bank, Pamellar contacted creditors, wrote letters, kept track of spending and cleared the path to home ownership in less than two years. In fact, Pamellar and her daughter Cheasley worked so swiftly that they were able to purchase and move into their new home at Sunrise Park in August. Pamellar’s determination to beat the odds and provide a better future for Cheasley, is inspiring other Habitat families in the

The Moon family now calls the Promise Keeper at Sunrise Park their home.

program by showing what is possible through hard work, determination and sound financial planning.


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Families Come Home to Sunrise Park Promise Keeper Springs to Life

Community Gathers to Celebrate

With the help of more than sixty volunteers, residents bid farewell to their trailers on two hot days in July and moved into their brand new apartments built by Habitat for Humanity in partnership with CMS Construction. This is the first trailer park Volunteers brave record temperatures to help relocate the trailer park residents. redevelopment project in the country without resident displacement and the building that now houses the original Sunrise residents has been appropriately named “The Promise Keeper.”

Friends and supporters from around the country joined Habitat on September 15th to celebrate the completion of the first half of Sunrise Park. (Scenes from the celebration below and to the right).

Each volunteer exhibited astounding sensitivity and respect for the residents’ belongings. From precious framed pictures and family heirlooms to boxes of toiletries and paperwork, every item made its way into the new condominium safely and with the utmost care. “Although moving is always going to be stressful, it is such a blessing that my children will have rooms of their own for the first time in their lives,” says Becky Gentry, who lived in a Sunrise trailer for sixteen years. “I greatly appreciate everything that

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As neighborhood children jumped joyously in the bounce house located in Sunrise’s “big back yard,” speakers representing Habitat International, the City of Charlottesville, AARP Foundation, the Virginia Housing Development Authority and Partner Families themselves told the audience what Sunrise means to them.

Long-time Sunrise residents provide sweat equity sprucing up Sunrise grounds.

Habitat has done for my family. We are very happy and look forward to our future in this apartment.” For Habitat, the move marked one of the final stages of phase I construction, but for Sunrise Park residents, it marked a new phase of their lives. Now as you walk the hallways of the Promise Keeper, you hear the giggle of children, smell dinner on the stove, and find a welcome mat at each door. While the physical distance they travelled was not so far, the journey has been long for these residents. It is with great excitement that we can finally say, “Welcome home.”

“Habitat for Humanity has given me a hand up, and instilled in me a sense of purpose and accomplishment,” said new homeowner Louisa Candelario. “As I gaze at this beautiful community that I have become a part of and helped to build, I just know that my four children will be elated to step foot into their new yellow house on Sunrise Park Lane.” The block party style event marked the completion of phase I of Sunrise Park, which includes 16 new homes purchased by Partner Families, nine affordable rental units occupied by the original residents, finished lots for six market rate homes and a bright and spacious community center serving the entire neighborhood. Thanks to all who attended the event and who contributed to the natonal precedent-setting Sunrise Park community!

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Resident and Community Engagement a Core Value at Southwood The Southwood community has been abuzz with activities designed to connect residents with needed services and with each other as the long process of planning for redevelopment begins.

Resident Information Sessions

Resident Surveys

Community Advisory Community Coordinator Committee

In August and September, Habitat staff and board members opened the Southwood resident engagement project with a series of six evening meetings. An average of 30 people participated in each session to hear about Habitat’s core values for redevelopment and to ask questions. Habitat is planning regular Q&A sessions throughout the process to make sure redevelopment is responsive to residents’ concerns and needs.

Anne Ternes, along with interns Dick Goodin and Nelson Lopez, are interviewing residents to gather information about each of their needs, desires and abilities. The results of these surveys will inform the design of the future Southwood as well as options for rehousing.

Southwood residents, Habitat board members, county officials, service providers and others in the community have begun meeting quarterly to provide a forum for all stakeholders to ask questions, express concerns and share ideas regarding the redevelopment process.

Residents come together for Q&A sessions regarding redevelopment at Southwood.

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Safety Meetings Southwood safety meetings have empowered residents to make positive changes in their neighborhood. The first three months were focused on emergency preparedness and culminated in a talk from a volunteer from the American Red Cross. More recently, first responders from Albemarle County have become central participants.

Back to School Event On August 14th an estimated 450 residents, teachers and administrators gathered at Southwood to celebrate the beginning of another school year. Students were rewarded with raffle prizes for introducing their families to their teachers and principals in an effort to better connect parents with the faculty and staff that will be working with their children.

Moving Forward with Project 20 In order to help 20 families a year fulfill their dreams while we plan for Southwood, we are hard at work on the following projects:

Cleveland Avenue Two Habitat homes built in partnership with the Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust. Expected completion: Spring 2013.

Phase II of Sunrise Park Six more Partner Family homes on land formerly occupied by Sunrise trailers. Expected completion: Summer 2013.

Belmont Cottages Fifteen Partner Family and market rate homes in a great neighborhood in the heart of Charlottesville. Expected completion: Fall 2013.

Burnet Commons II: The Woods Four Habitat homes as part of a mixed income community near downtown and the Cherry Avenue commercial corridor. Expected groundbreaking: Summer 2013.

Elliott Avenue Twenty Habitat homes as part of a unique partnership with the City of Charlottesville and Southern Development to transform a long-time dumping ground into a unique, 45-50 unit sustainable neighborhood. Expected groundbreaking: January 2014.

Louisa County Habitat Two rehabilitations of foreclosed homes and assistance with earthquake repairs. To support these Louisa-specific initiatives, you may donate directly to Louisa County Habitat at P.O. Box 1179, Louisa, VA 23093.

Project 20 continued from page 1

of our focus turns toward planning for the anticipated 2016 start of construction at the Southwood Mobile Home Park, a neighborhood with 30 times the area occupied by Sunrise and 20 times the number of trailers. In the meantime, we are continuing our aggressive approach toward helping at least 20 families a year achieve their dreams by moving forward with a variety of exciting mixed-income projects in the City (see above). “Of course, scaling up to 20 homes a year – the central focus of Project 20 – will require broad community support,” said McCusker.

Habitat recently received a pledge for a lead, matching gift catalyzing our 20 home a year effort. Every dollar you donate to Project 20 will be matched by this gift, allowing us to help more families achieve success, faster. We are asking everyone to step up with us. If you volunteered 10 hours last year, please consider 15 hours this year. If you donated $100 this year, please consider contributing $150 or more next year. “Together, we really can make a lasting difference for families and have a huge, positive impact on the community as a whole,” said McCusker. I The Blueprint pg 7

Non-profit organization U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 225 Charlottesville, VA

P.O. Box 7305 Charlottesville, VA 22906 434.293.9066 (phone) 434.293.0683 (fax) CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED

World Habitat Day


oday, 1.6 billion people worldwide live in inade-

in and around Charlottesville participated in a variety

quate shelter. Right here in Charlottesville, more

of activities spanning the entire week. Some of the

than a quarter of our residents spend more than

activities included: Local congregations asking members to consider

50% of their income toward housing costs, with thousands


living in substandard or overcrowded conditions.

their role in the community’s growth during their worship service.

In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly declared that the first Monday in October would be


UVa’s Campus Chapter holding their annual “Hammer

World Habitat Day. Globally on this day, individuals and organiza-

for Habitat” event during which students wrote their reflections

tions join Habitat for Humanity in raising awareness and inspiring

about this year’s theme and nailed their messages to a replica of a

people to take action toward providing opportunities for safe,

substandard home assembled on the Lawn.

decent, affordable housing.


Habitat’s Youth United chapter hosted a Lego Blitz Build during

This year’s theme, “Many Homes, One Community,” highlighted

which children built homes from different parts of the world.

the vital role that decent, affordable housing plays in community

They then placed the homes side by side to emphasize the “One

stabilization and development. In honor of the day, Habitat supporters

Community” theme.


The Habitat Store Remember, the Habitat Store is your place to find great home improvement bargains. Your purchase helps to keep construction waste from ending up in landfills and also gives a hand up to our hard working Partner Families since all proceeds go directly to building affordable housing in our community. Throughout the fall our inventory will include a great selection of hardwood laminate flooring, brand new mattress sets (both full and queen), a wide variety of painting supplies and the eclectic mix of used furniture and building materials that you’ve come to expect. Stop in soon to see what’s new or visit us on Facebook!

434.293.6331 · 1221 Harris Street, Charlottesville, VA 22903 · Monday–Friday 10am-6pm. Saturday 9am-5pm. Closed Sunday.

Blueprint Fall 2012