Habitat for Humanity Expands New Paradigm to Albemarle

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After following a certain building model for nearly 15 years, Habitat for Humanity has changed the way it provides affordable homes.  Its New Paradigm plan has been so successful in Charlottesville that leaders are optimistic about progress being made in Albemarle County.

The transformation that has taken place at Sunrise Park in Charlottesville is really the first of its kind.  Now, a special grant is making the same type of transformation possible in Albemarle County.

Building houses is the foundation of what Habitat for Humanity stands for, but the organization is taking a new approach to transforming houses into homes.  Instead of single-family homes, it's focused on creating diverse neighborhoods.

Jeanne McCusker with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville said, "The New Paradigm is what we're focusing on next year and the years to come so that affordable housing can actually be placed in mixed-income communities, and we're not creating pockets of poverty in the Charlottesville area."

Sunrise Park is the ideal representation of what Habitat for Humanity hopes to do in Southwood, a mobile home park in Albemarle County.  The goal is to create another mixed-income community with zero displacements for people who live there, but the task is on a much larger scale. Sunrise Park included a little more than two acres and 15 trailers, but Southwood would transform 100 acres and 350 households. 

"The first step is letting them know that habitat is their partner," said McCusker.  "We're not there to come in and take over their neighborhood. There's a wonderful sense of community out there, and we really want to build on that in the future."

Habitat for Humanity has been hosting several community meetings to get a feel for what people want such as playgrounds, parks, and social service needs.  A key part in getting Southwood to look like Sunrise Park is an initiative called Project 20.

McCusker said, "We have a very generous donor here in Charlottesville that has given us a matching grant, so that we can attain our goal of building 20 houses per year."

Habitat for Humanity says it's premature to say when they will start breaking ground at Southwood.  The organization is accepting donations to help meet its Project 20 goal.  Click here for more information.