HUD HOME Dollars and HUD Partners Changes Lives

Plumb Line Ministries has successfully used HUD HOME funds to fulfill the dreams of 65 first-time low income homeowners in the Central Brambleton community of Norfolk, Virginia since 1994.

Sherita L. Martin, a single mother of three children, realized her dream by purchasing a first home from Plumb Line Ministries in 2004. Prior to buying her house, she was renting an apartment. Ms. Martin stated, "I am very happy with my decision in purchasing my home through Plumb Line Ministries. They were a great help in making this decision and making it happen. I think it is a great opportunity for first-time home buyers and anybody else who takes advantage of this opportunity."

Ms. Martin is not alone in realizing her dream through Plumb Line Ministries.

Plumb Line Ministries started its mission by forming a joint venture non-profit corporation in 1988. Plumb Line has a board of directors that is comprised of one-third from Grace Episcopal Church, one-third from St. Paul's Episcopal Church and one-third from the surrounding neighborhood. Its goal is to provide affordable homes for low-income families in the Central Brambleton neighborhood of Norfolk. Central Brambleton is one of the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority's (NRHA) target communities for redevelopment. Since 1994, Plumb Line has built 65 new homes, all for first-time homebuyers. The corporation has been allocated over $1.5 million in HUD HOME funds and has been Norfolk's leading producer of CHDO built homes (see below).

[Photo: Homes built by Plumb Line Ministries in Norfolk, VA]
Homes built by Plumb Line Ministries in Norfolk, VA

Plumb Line Ministries reaches its target population through referrals from Norfolk State University, local churches, previous clients and local advertising. They acquire sites; the builder prepares each site, and builds the home on a turn-key basis. The builder is paid as building progresses by a construction loan from a financial institution. Progress is monitored by the financial institutions and the Plumb Line Ministries Executive Director. NRHA and City of Norfolk inspectors insure the homes meet all state and city code requirements. An approved attorney conveys the home to buyer at closing. Plumb Line Ministries has agreements with surveyors, builders, NRHA, banks, attorneys and mortgage lenders to provide all the necessary development services.

The City of Norfolk is a participating jurisdiction in the HUD HOME program. They contract with NRHA to use HOME funds to revitalize neighborhoods in Norfolk like the Brambleton community. One of the requirements of the HOME program is that 15 percent of a participating jurisdiction's allocation be set aside to support the activities of Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs). The City of Norfolk currently has four operational CHDOs. These are, with their designated areas, date of HOME involvement and production outputs since inception: Beacon Light (Berkley, 1996, 27 homes), Park Place Redevelopment Foundation (Park Place, 1993, 41 homes), Community Housing Partners (city-wide, 2005, 4 homes) and Plumb Line Ministries (Central Brambleton, 1994, 65 homes). Of all HOME houses built, 26 percent have been built by CHDOs.

Plumb Line Ministries has had great success in working with City of Norfolk funds for over 15 years. By removing and replacing blighted homes, the Central Brambleton area is enhanced. This project has improved the overall quality of Norfolk's housing stock and improved the lives of people like Ms. Martin. Plumb Line Ministries has blended HUD HOME funds and HUD Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured mortgages with funds or insured mortgages from HUD partners such as the state housing finance agency and Veterans Administration (VA)-insured mortgages which finance the construction of this affordable housing.

Fifteen years and 65 homes is quite an outstanding use of HUD HOME funds. This work, coupled with funds and resources of other HUD Partners, has had a profound affect on many lives.

Content Archived: March 1, 2011
Content Archived: March 1, 2011