BLACKSBURG, Va. – Between working from home and learning from home, helping local families build then buy affordable and reliable housing is more important than ever before. That’s why Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley worked through the pandemic to finish its most recent project.
Several New River Valley families are waking up in new affordable homes because of it, but the organization said they can’t take all the credit.
There’s no surprise Habitat for Humanity of New River Valley had challenges working through the pandemic, but executive director Shelley Fortier tells 10 News the work began way before coronavirus hit here in the U.S. This is Fortier’s last project before retiring. Jim Drader, the incoming executive director begins later this month.
The Homes on Church Street project located near Downtown Blacksburg is the first multi-family project, costing $1.4 million. Due to the pandemic, volunteers had to leave but these homes couldn’t have been built without a community effort.
A grant covered the majority of the costs then the community raised half a million dollars to help with the difference. The land was donated by Blacksburg Presbyterian Church and a Charlottesville company did the designs pro-bono.
“The community heart, the community love and the community finances come together and we deliver and the best feeling is that I know that these families will be able to afford their home and meet the challenges of COVID-19 or the next pandemic type issue,” said Fortier.
New homeowner Heinrich Curtis is grateful because his home was built with his mother, who is handicapped, in mind. She doesn’t have to struggle with the stairs like she did at their last place. Even though there were road bumps along the way, this project restored hope during a time of uncertainty.
“Because even when conditions are very difficult at a time like this where people can’t get together and organize projects like this can still be accomplished,” said Curtis.
Levonne Wallace and her two kids are moving in a few doors down, a dream come true for her family. Wallace said her kids are inspired to help others because of this experience.
“It was really due to the community and just all the help that we received and that’s what really kept us going, without that we would have just lost hope," Wallace said.
Habitat for Humanity is working on a similar project in Floyd and plans to break ground next year.