A small housing nonprofit focused on Richmond’s East End has been marking more milestones of late, breaking ground on its first new-construction home and cutting the ribbon on two others in a span of two weeks.
Urban Hope, a nonprofit that facilitates homeownership for low-income households in the East End, recently moved in residents at two newly constructed homes it purchased from fellow nonprofit Maggie Walker Community Land Trust (MWCLT). The homes were built by Eagle Construction of VA.
A week earlier, Urban Hope started work on its first new-construction project: a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house it’s building in North Church Hill with Center Creek Homes, a D.C.-based builder focused on lower-income housing that’s been raising its profile locally in recent years.
With both projects, Urban Hope is renting the homes to residents at rates affordable to households making 50 percent or less of the area median income – about $45,000 for a family of four, according to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. The North Church Hill house, to be built on 29th Street, will be leased at $1,075 a month.
Renters are then given the chance to qualify to purchase the home after meeting certain criteria.
Urban Hope is able to do so through cost savings from public-private partnerships, in-kind donations from collaborating firms, and a discounted rate from MWCLT, which sold the two attached Eagle Construction homes for $70,000 each. It purchased the previously foreclosed properties from Fannie Mae.
The city assessed the homes at $90,000, property records show, and comparably sized homes in the area are selling for three or four times that.
The homes are rented to residents enrolled in programs at the Peter Paul Development Center and ReWork Richmond, both of which are located near the two houses.
Urban Hope expects the collaborative model to be able to be replicated with other housing efforts underway in the area, such as those related to the redevelopment of Creighton Court and other public housing.
The Eagle Construction homes, at North 21st and W streets, were funded through a grant from Bank of America’s Marietta McNeil Morgan & Samuel Tate Morgan Jr. Trust. Eagle Construction provided $30,000 in in-kind services.
At the ribbon-cutting for those homes, Sarah Hale, Urban Hope’s executive director, noted that the property will provide homeownership opportunities for lower-income residents for many years to come.
“When homes are created to be affordable from the start, it’s a onetime investment for a sustained benefit,” Hale told the gathering of participants and supporters. “It seems like a lot of money to get started, but this will carry on and not only benefit these two families but the families that will live there after them. Public-private partnership is critical to making it happen.”
City Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille, whose district includes both home sites, was in attendance for the event and also provided remarks.
Laughing, she told the crowd, “I was saying to Sarah at 29th Street, ‘Can we do this every other week?’ Quality affordable housing coming in our community consistently, I was so excited.
“What it would have cost just to build this without your commitment, it’s unparalleled,” Newbille said. “I just want to say thank you to all of you. I’m excited about our future because of this kind of collaborative and collective effort.”