New housing development helping city residents find affordable housing

RICHMOND, Va. --Many local experts say that finding affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges faced in the Richmond area.

Keeping up with ever-increasing rent costs can be crippling to wallets and can price families of low to modest means out of the game.

Sharon Harden, who works for the city of Richmond, found herself in that boat not that long ago.

“It was absolutely frustrating. There are a lot of things that go into finding the perfect house,” Harden said.

Thanks to an affordable housing program through Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation, Sharon and her six-year-old son were able to purchase a brand new, three bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home on Richmond’s north side.

All of this, while taking advantage of tens of thousands of dollars in grant money.

“It was amazing. I felt accomplished and I felt like I was showing my son that this was something attainable,” Harden explained.

That program will mirror what the southside will soon see in The Hollands at Perry Street development.

Ground was broken Thursday morning on that public-private partnership deal, a collaboration of the City of Richmond, HUD, SunTrust Bank and SCDHC.

SCDHC President and CEO Dianna Bowser explained that the project will include 22 brand new townhome units at the intersection of West 24th and Perry Street.

“These will be affordable units. The homes will be sold to low to moderate income individuals and families.

They will range from $155,000 to $180,000. The project will provide counseling services to the purchasers and provide them with down payment and closing cost assistance,” Bowser said.

Smitty Smith, owner of Rivercity Blues Realty, says it’s not enough to just build the homes, it’s also about educating potential buyers.

“The whole purpose is to educate individuals to become successful homeowners by teaching them about credit. More important than credit, is budgeting. That is the key to homeownership—creating and maintaining a personal budget” Smith said.

Harden agrees. She says it’s much more than just paying money and getting a key to a new home.

“The education piece is so important. I think providing more affordable housing is so critical. It means everything. It means stability. It means creating a legacy for your children and it is building wealth and equity,” Harden explained.

Potential homebuyers will be able to take advantage of counseling services and sizable grants to help with the down payment or closing costs.

Harden says she was able to take advantage of more than $40,000 worth of grants.

Homes built in The Hollands at Perry Street will be completed in 2020.

For more information, contact Southside Community Development and Housing at 804-231-4449.

You can also find out more information about the free home buying workshops and available grants at www.gritsandgrants.com.

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