Local non-profits work with RRHA to transform Richmond neighborhoods

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – 8News is volunteering with Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity this week as part of Nexstar Founder’s Day. Today, we spotlight one of the joint projects that the non-profit is involved in, helping to end the cycle of poverty.

In Richmond’s Randolph neighborhood, Kansas Avenue is known as the cul-de-sac of vacant houses.

“They’ve been vacant for a number of years,” Macia Davis, Chief Real Estate Officer Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority said. “So, there’s quite an extensive rehab that needs to take place.”

Davis said the houses are part of 66 vacant houses throughout the Richmond area that the agency is trying to re-purpose.

“Part of our strategic plan was to bring this program to an end. It had been going on since 2007,” Davis said. “The housing authority is divesting itself of the ‘scattered site public housing,’ so this is a part and this was a viable option so that we can get these homes back and transform these communities because it does no community good to have an entire block of vacant homes.”

Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority is transferring 38 of the vacant houses to Project:HOMES and Richmond’s Habitat for Humanity to renovate the houses and turn them into homes for families with low to medium incomes.

“These homes will have new roofs new siding where that’s appropriate be painted windows will be upgraded. They’re really going to be fantastic,” CEO of Project:HOMES Lee Householder said. “We thought maybe if we split up a chunk of the properties we could be more effective in partnership.”

Jane Helfrich, CEO of Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity said taking on the project reflects the organization’s mission and will benefit the surrounding neighborhood.

“Habitat takes families out of poverty for generations, for forever,” Helfrich said. “Our families here will have instant equity because the river is just down there. Texas beach will be available to all these residents and then this wonderful big green space over here so it’s just going to be a marvelous opportunity both for the neighborhood surrounding, our families, the housing authority being able to resolve this problem and the two nonprofits being able to serve those who we work with.”

Helfrich said she has seen first hand how the habitat home-ownership program has benefited generations.

“A single mom with four children lived in Gilpin Court,” Helfrich said. “[She] moved into their new home and just to cut it to the chase, all four [children] went to college, three have bachelor’s degree and one has a master’s degree and two own their own homes. Out of poverty, for generations, so that’s why I love habitat.”

She said together the two non-profits hope to have the renovated homes filled with local families, in 18 months.

The remaining 28 units will be sold in an auction in two weeks, on June 29.

For more details about RRHA’s Scattered Site Public Housing program, CLICK HERE.

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