CHP was founded in 1975 by two concerned citizen activists—Rev. Woody Leach and Emily Stuart—who organized volunteer college students and faculty in Blacksburg, Virginia to perform minor home repairs for low-income families living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Known as Project Home Repair, we soon added weatherization services, which were delivered by a small team of professional staff.
A New Name
As the complexity of needed home repairs grew, our board of directors renamed the organization Virginia Mountain Housing, Inc. and received a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS. During this time, the current Chief Executive Officer, Janaka Casper, began his career with the organization that would eventually become known as Community Housing Partners. We continued to grow in the 1980s, adding rental housing preservation, Class-A general contracting, property management, homeownership, and realty programs. Virginia Mountain Housing also made the decision to expand services outside of the New River Valley, launching an indoor plumbing initiative and providing contract weatherization services to other nonprofit organizations—making us the state’s largest provider of weatherization services.
Growth in the 1990s
To reflect a more geographically diverse service area, we changed our name to VMH, Inc. in the 1990s. We purchased several multifamily rental communities in Florida and established Tekoa, Inc., a residential treatment center and school for at-risk youth. To help meet the needs of rental property tenants, VMH also established a resident services program. During this time, we also founded the New River Center for Energy Research and Training (NRCERT). This division sought to provide training and research in residential energy conservation techniques, home performance testing, and heating and cooling diagnostics, repair, and replacement.
Becoming Community Housing Partners
The 2000s ushered in more change, when our board and staff decided to change our name to Community Housing Partners (CHP) to more accurately represent the importance of collaboration in achieving success. New lines of business were added as well, including a subsidiary community development financial institution (CDFI) named New Enterprises Fund, which worked to promote economic development in the New River Valley. Later, this entity was spun off into a completely separate company and renamed Virginia Community Capital, which continues to focus on markets underserved by traditional capital sources. In 2002, the CHP Design Studio was established to offer architectural services to CHP and external, like-minded clients. This award-winning, full-service design firm was nationally recognized for high-performance, sustainable design throughout its 15 years of service.
Embracing Sustainability & Community Development
In 2003, CHP launched an environmentally-focused initiative called Down to Earth, which outlined our ongoing commitment to principles of sustainability and set the tone for green programs that would follow within the organization and across the industry. That same year, we became a chartered member organization of NeighborWorks America, a nonprofit organization that supports community development across the country. In 2010, CHP Energy Solutions Research and Training Center (formerly NRCERT) expanded its scope of service when it opened a new 12,500-square-foot training facility in Christiansburg to provide hands-on energy-efficiency training to participants from all over the world.
CHP’s Impact Today
CHP now has more than 350 employees across a six-state footprint and is continuing to grow. In 2018, we provided 11,143 residents with stable rental housing, 3,457 individuals with resident services, and 169 clients with homeownership education and counseling. We also invested more than $48 million in homes that meet green standards; built, preserved, or weatherized 2,743 homes, and provided energy efficiency training to 759 individuals.