10/24/2019 Release from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville:

Charlottesville, VA:  Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville has received a $100,000 Neighborhood Revitalization Learning Cohort grant from Wells Fargo. The grant will support Habitat’s partnership with Southwood Mobile Home Park residents to improve the quality of life in their Albemarle County community.

Southwood Mobile Home Park is the area’s largest concentration of low-cost housing with an estimated 1,500 community members living in the 120-acre park. As with many mobile home parks across the country, Southwood residents own their homes but not the land underneath them, making residents vulnerable to redevelopment pressure and displacement. Add to that the challenges of aging mobile homes and deteriorating infrastructure, and the future of Southwood as a mobile home park is ultimately unsustainable. To address these challenges, Habitat purchased Southwood in 2007 and made a promise of redevelopment without resident displacement.

Since then, Southwood residents have partnered with Habitat to lead an unprecedented, national-model neighborhood revitalization project to transform the park into a mixed-income, mixed-use community of 800+ homes without displacing residents. For the past three years, residents have been planning alongside architects and engineers for the new Southwood. They recently obtained rezoning approval for the first phase of construction and are now developing plans for the first neighborhood. Groundbreaking is slated for late 2020.

“Without the support of our partners at Wells Fargo, the intensive planning and engagement process that puts residents in the driver seat wouldn’t be possible,” says Rush Otis, Habitat’s Director of Southwood Redevelopment. “We are pleased to partner with Wells Fargo, who shares Habitat’s vision that having a safe, stable home helps bring strength, security and independence to families and ultimately communities.”

Habitat for Humanity International launched the Neighborhood Revitalization program in 2010 to better meet the aspirations of local communities. Habitat offers an array of housing services and partners with local residents, housing leaders, community groups and businesses to transform neighborhoods and enhance the quality of life in communities such as Southwood.

In 2018, Habitat for Humanity, with funding from Wells Fargo and other partners, launched a five-year effort to study the health and quality of life impact of a neighborhood revitalization approach that puts residents in the driver’s seat for change, with a focus on ten neighborhoods across America.