New program addresses affordable housing by helping homeowners make repairs

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Helping low- and moderate-income homeowners make repairs that allow them to stay in their homes is the Greenville Housing Fund’s newest way to address affordable housing.

The Homeowner Preservation Program (HOPP) will provide money to nonprofit and local government sponsors to help homeowners make repairs that correct life, health, and safety issues, including providing accessibility for disabled persons, repairing or replacing major housing systems, and addressing structural problems.

Initial funding came from a $100,000 donation from Westminster Presbyterian Church, $75,000 from the Hollingsworth Fund, and $25,000 from Iberiabank.

“The dignity of owning a home in the city ought to be available to a wide expanse of people in our city,” said the Rev. Ben Dorr, the church’s pastor.

Greenville Housing Fund project manager Tammie Hoy Hawkins said the repair fund is one way to battle gentrification.

“In neighborhoods that are feeling the presence of gentrification, homeowners that don’t have heat or have a roof [that] is falling in, when they get letters in the mail from developers who offer to buy their home, they feel the pressure,” she said. “Being able to make those repairs takes the pressure off and helps avoid gentrification and relocation.”

Chris Manley, president and CEO of Rebuild Upstate, a nonprofit that does home rehabilitation work, said he knows of more than 600 families in Greenville County that live in houses with leaky roofs, unstable floors, no working heat, or other major problems. “This program will allow more of these homes to be repaired and preserved, thus taking at least some stress off of the overwhelming need for new affordable homes,” he said.

His organization recently helped a great-grandmother who is raising her granddaughter and had a home with no working heat and a bathroom floor in danger of collapsing into the crawlspace.

“We believe every family should have a safe, healthy, livable place to call home,” he said.

HOPP’s target neighborhoods include Judson, Dunean, Nicholtown, Pleasant Valley, Poinsett, Rutherford, West Greenville, and White Horse Road. Sponsors may apply for up to $25,000 with a maximum of $5,000 per home. Eligible households can make no more than 100 percent of the area’s median household income, which is $66,500 for a family of four. Priority will be given to households making 80 percent or less than the median household income, or $53,200.

The Greenville City Council established the independent nonprofit Greenville Housing Fund to help address the city’s shortage of more than 2,500 affordable housing units. Greenville County has a shortage of nearly 9,500 affordable housing units.

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