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New Life for Old Neighborhood

With an infusion of over a half a million dollars in community improvement grant money via Community Housing Partners (CHP), Roanoke’s West End neighborhood is poised to recapture more than a glimmer of its vibrant past.

A century ago, the then-thriving neighborhood attracted a healthy cross section of residents and enterprising business owners.  But over the past several decades, the West End fell into decline and became known for its neglected buildings and deteriorating infrastructure.

City planners saw potential, however, in the fierce community pride of the West End’s residents, the commitment—and success—of a few key businesses, and the neighborhood’s close proximity to downtown.  These critical factors were instrumental in the city of Roanoke’s decision to target the West End for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant money. 

CHP will use $439,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) funds from HUD to purchase and rehabilitate four vacant homes in the historic neighborhood.  Each renovated home will be sold by CHP Realty for approximately $80,000 - $140,000 and will include a number of environmentally-friendly features such as energy-efficient appliances and windows, low-VOC finishes, and durable materials.   To help ensure that buyers are prepared for the often complex process of purchasing a home and maintaining their asset--both financially and physically--they will be required to attend free homebuyer education classes through CHP’s Homeownership Center.
“This is an exciting time for the West End and CHP is honored to be a part of it by creating new affordable housing opportunities in the neighborhood,” said CHP’s director of homeownership Kamilia Lawson.  “Homeownership plays an important role in a community’s stability and vitality and we hope the success of this program will help inspire further revitalization efforts in the area.”
Another $72,500 in CDBG grant money will be used by CHP’s certified Energy Solutions team to conduct energy efficient upgrades and structural renovations on several rental properties in the West End.  CHP will pay for 50 percent of the project costs— up to a $10,000 ceiling—and building owners will be required to cover the other 50 percent.  Through a partnership with FAHE and the PowerSaver loan program, CHP will also be able to offer special financing to building owners to augment the grant subsidy.
"This program offers a unique opportunity to improve rental housing in the West End neighborhood.  Reducing energy costs and making homes healthier and more comfortable will be a welcome change for many residents and a valuable incentive for property owners to make much needed improvements in their buildings," stated CHP Director of Energy Efficiency Programs Mason Cavell.
Those individuals or families interested in learning more about owning an affordable home in the West End may contact CHP at (540) 260.9039 or ownahome@chpc2.org.  To learn more   about rental upgrades for building owners, call (540)267.6137 or email mcavell@chpc2.org.