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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winners: Virginia

Best Practice: Chesapeake Affordable Homeownership Partnership


Chesapeake, Virginia. When a government-sponsored development of 850 cinderblock units for shipbuilders in the Campostella Square neighborhood of Chesapeake, Virginia, was first built in the 1940s, the life expectancy for the homes was only five years. Decades later, low-income families living in these homes suffered from health and safety complaints arising from buildings long past their prime. A public-private- nonprofit collaboration called the Chesapeake Affordable Homeownership Partnership (CAHP) is helping revitalize this distressed area while offering homeownership opportunities to

Brenda Willis receiving Best of the Best award
Brenda Willis (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

low-income families.

The partnership is composed of lead partner Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA), South Hampton Roads Habitat for Humanity and the Tidewater Builders’ Association (TBA). CRHA began working with the Tidewater Builders’ Association in 1990 to build affordable homes on-site in Chesapeake. In 1993, TBA began constructing three-bedroom, energy-efficient homes off-site at its apprentice training center. The CRHA arranged to purchase completed off-site homes and move them to prepared lots in a Chesapeake neighborhood targeted for revitalization.

At the same time, CRHA donated lots so that its other partner—Habitat for Humanity—could construct single-family homes in the revitalization zone. In 1996, CRHA forged the TBA and Habitat partnerships into a broader program that capitalizes on the strengths of all. This centerpiece program entailed moving eight of the TBA homes constructed off-site to Habitat-built foundations on CRHA-prepared lots. Habitat volunteers built the foundations and put the finishing touches on the homes, which include front porches and utility connections.

The homes are sold through lease-purchase arrangement to first-time homebuyers. At least 30 apprentices are required to build each home. To date, the program has provided employment and educational benefits to more than 270 economically disadvantaged students.

Partnership development and construction of new homes proved easier than attracting potential homeowners to the Campostella Square area once well known for crime and blight. To address safety and area economic viability issues, the partnership held a series of meetings with churches, the business community and residents to form a neighborhood association. Partnership staff also worked with the police to increase area patrols. Habitat for Humanity promotes the area when they interview candidates for homeownership. These efforts helped convince residents and new homeowners of the partnership’s commitment to long-term revitalization.

“You can tell by the way the new homeowners keep their yards that they have a sense of pride in their community,” says Brenda Willis, the partnership’s executive director.

The partnership has allowed Chesapeake to leverage CDBG and HOME funds to eliminate blight, bolster homeownership rates and develop long-term, living-wage employment opportunities for public and assisted housing residents. Approximately $288,000 in HOME and CDBG funds was supplemented by more than $104,000 of in-kind donations from Habitat for Humanity and $200,000 from the Tidewater Builders Association.

The program has built eight new homes to date—one of the new homeowners is a former Chesapeake public housing resident—and expects to add more homes annually through the three-tiered partnership effort. Campostella Square, once designated an area “most in need of housing assistance,” is experiencing a surge of building activity. In addition to the homeownership program, more than 300 new rental units and a community center are planned, with new mixed-income homes and market-rate homes on the horizon.

Contact: Brenda Willis, Phone: (757) 523-0401
Tracking Number: 699
Winning Category: Geographic

Best Practice: New Road Community Development Group of Exmore

Determination in Struggle for Indoor Plumbing Results in New Housing and Amenities

Exmore, Virginia. The New Road Community Development Group of Exmore—a community-based non-profit organization located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore—was established in 1992 to fight for a new sewer and water system that would provide services to 90 substandard housing units in the New Road community. The housing development, owned by two absentee landlords, is home to approximately 300 low-income African-American residents. The facility had no indoor plumbing.

Formed to address this concern, today the New Road development group’s

Recipients receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

accomplishments include leveraging $1.75 million in CDBG funds for the new water and sewer infrastructure, securing a low-interest loan of $343,000 to purchase a 30-acre property and 54 substandard units from two absentee landlords, and managing 20 single-unit rental properties. In addition, the group renovated five elderly and low-income homeowner units, Identifying housing counseling services and recruiting low-income families for first time homeownership programs. The group also renovated space for offices, meeting space for the community, and a youth center.

The development group is designed to foster a sense of resident involvement, as well as managing rental properties, sustaining its homeownership ideals and generally overseeing the well-being of the community at large. None of the members of the development group’s board had prior experience in community organizing; however, they were determined to create a sustainable and affordable living environment for their families. The New Road group developed a $10 million comprehensive revitalization plan with three components: housing, and economic and human development.

The entire community benefits from this revitalization effort according to Ruth Wise, executive director of the development group. “Economic development is important if communities are to get ahead,” she says, “and this project helps communities with economic development as well as housing.”

According to Wise, the essence of the project is best expressed through the organization’s mission statement: “Our mission is to create a community of hope through environmental improvements and economic uplift where residents are empowered to guide our own social, economic, political, educational and spiritual destiny.”

Contact: Ruth Wise, Phone: (757) 442-3797
Tracking Number: 367
Winning Category: Program (Community Planning and Development)

Best Practice: Uniform Building Codes for Compliance with Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines

Review of Model Building Codes Ensures Consistency and Facilitates Compliance

Richmond, Virginia. HUD’s Virginia office coordinated an intra-agency review of four model building codes to identify areas where the codes were not consistent with the Fair Housing Act and Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines. The office has made recommendations on where the codes need to be changed in order to be consistent with the act.

In response to a request from the model building code organizations and in response to a congressional request from the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, HUD has reviewed the International Building Code, the BOCA

Milton Turner (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

National Building Code, the Uniform Building Code and the Standard Building Code. Ultimately, building code organizations, the building industry and other interested persons would receive technical assistance on the extent to which accessibility provisions are consistent with the act and the accessibility guidelines.

The Fair Housing Act, because it is a federal civil rights law, is not a “required” component of the building codes. However, the act enables HUD to encourage state and local jurisdictions to adopt building codes and review processes that will check for compliance with the act. An important step in encouraging such local reviews of building plans for compliance with the Fair Housing Act is through encouraging adoption of building codes that are consistent with the act. By reviewing the model building codes and identifying areas where codes are not consistent, code organizations are able to develop language that insures consistency.

Involved in the process were the International Code Council, Building Officials & Code Administrators International, Inc., Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, American Institute of Architects, the National Multi Housing Council and the National Association of Home Builders. In addition, HUD received approximately 30 public comments from outside organizations on its draft report of its building codes review and considered all comments when writing its final report.

State and local jurisdictions that have codes consistent with the Fair Housing Act may adopt the model building codes. This helps HUD because state and local jurisdictions that have codes consistent with the act will enable review of plans at the design stage to better insure early compliance with the Fair Housing Act.

Contact: Judy Keeler, Phone: (804) 278-4500 Ext. 3250
Tracking Number: 553
Winning Category: Program (Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity)

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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