Habitat kicks off first home renovation project in over a decade

Habitat kicks off first home renovation project in over a decade

Hanover and King William Habitat for Humanity celebrated an exciting new addition to the nonprofit’s growing list of Habitat homes last week. Officially kicking off the start of their newest project on Friday, Nov. 18, Habitat additionally celebrated another milestone, as the new home will undergo the second renovation project ever performed by the local affiliate.

Under Habitat for Humanity International, the Hanover affiliate was first organized in 1990 and has since built 75 affordable homes, performed 32 critical repairs on local homes and rehabilitated one home. Soon an abandoned house on Dewey Street in Ashland will become the second rehabilitated home, transforming the lives of Ivy and her family for the better.

Kimberly Bell, Habitat director of family services, introduced Ivy and her family to the crowd of supporters at the rehab kickoff ceremony on the site of her new home. Habitat officials were joined by Ashland Mayor Steve Trivett, Vice Mayor John Hodges, town councilmember Anita Barnhart, friends and family to celebrate Ivy’s journey toward homeownership.

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Ivy is currently living in Richmond but works in a retirement community in Mechanicsville. The site of her upcoming home will offer her an easier commute to work, Bell said.

“Ivy’s situation really stood out to us,” Bell said. “She told us her biggest concern was the violence in the neighborhood that she was living in.”

Ivy first approached Habitat in July after attending an informational session. Just prior to applying to the Habitat homeownership program, there was a deadly shooting in front of her apartment that occurred while her daughter was home alone. She showed Habitat officials the bullet holes that were left in her walls and car.

“They really desire a safe and stable place for their future, and we’re hoping that Dewey Street will give you guys some sense of peace after everything,” Bell said as she turned to Ivy and her family.

Habitat executive director Renee Robinson said the safe and friendly Ashland neighborhood will surely offer the family a sense of comfort, as neighbors have already approached Habitat officials thanking them for rehabilitating the home, which has been sitting vacant for over two years.

Robinson said the home had been sitting as an untouched foreclosure for some time after suffering from a house fire and was auctioned off to nonprofit organizations.

“They offered it to nonprofits first, before opening it up to the general public, as a way to make sure that it’s going to be an affordable home that can be developed for the community,” Robinson said. “So we jumped in on that, and we were only able to do that because of the ARPA funding that the Town of Ashland provided us.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, Ashland Town Council presented a check in the amount of $100,000 in secured American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to Hanover and King William Habitat for Humanity to purchase and renovate the vacant Dewey Street home.

“We were down to the last minute in the auction and we won it, and we were so excited because we’ve only ever done one other renovation project in the history of our affiliate,” Robinson said.

Habitat didn’t waste any time after closing on the house, as they immediately began cleaning up a “dumpster-full” of overgrown bushes and piles of debris in the backyard. They additionally called in a forensic engineer to evaluate the damages to the home’s interior from the fire, which revealed significant damage to several trusses above the former kitchen.

“So that is a big thing right now for us, is trying to fix the trusses because obviously, we need to have a stable roof,” said Amanda Gunter, Habitat director of community engagement.

Robinson said they hope to officially turn over the keys to Ivy and her family in a few months.

“I just thank everyone for coming and I thank God,” Ivy said to the crowd. “I know that God works, because I’ve been trying to do this for a long time, and I finally did it.”

The crowd erupted into applause as Ivy performed the demo, tearing off a tattered window shutter to officially kick off the newest Habitat home’s rehabilitation.

For more information on Hanover and King William Habitat for Humanity and its Homeownership and Critical Repairs programs, visit the website, hkwhabitat.org.