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September 17, 2019

From the Ground Up

By Peter Brown

Gregory and Cassandra lived in Brookhill, one of Charlotte’s most neglected and dangerous urban neighborhoods. Beverly lived in a small two-bedroom home that her grandfather built. Mold and structural issues made the house unsafe for her son. Originally from Liberia, Ellen rented in Charlotte for over twelve years. Thankfully, soon they will all be homeowners in Habitat Charlotte’s newest neighborhood in North Charlotte, near the Sunset Road exit off I-77.

One glance down the 21-unit cul-de-sac neighborhood and you could easily mistake this for any other new neighborhood in Charlotte – welcoming front porches, charming architectural details and a vibrant mix of attractive exterior colors. However, this neighborhood is different, as it has been purposefully built to help lower-income Charlotte residents break free from generational cycles of economic hardship. Each home will be sold to a deserving family that has undergone Habitat Charlotte’s homeownership program, where they receive an affordable mortgage upon completion of required financial and homeownership education, plus 300 hours of sweat equity.

Our trio of new homeowners will be among the first to move into the neighborhood, aided through financial support from Lowe’s as part of their multi-year, $1.1 million Charlotte Impact Project affordable housing investment. During the recent home dedication for the new homeowners, Habitat Charlotte and Lowe’s proudly unveiled the name of the street – Red Vest Way – in honor of Lowe’s financial commitment and Lowe’s Heroes volunteers who helped to build the homes.

At the dedication, Laura Belcher, President and CEO of Habitat Charlotte, explained the importance of this neighborhood. “This place has transformed from a construction site into a community of homes…and that’s what we’re really celebrating today. We hope this is the first of many neighborhoods like this, where we can bring families together through the process of homeownership, where they start to get to know each other, their kids get to meet each other, and they all grow up together.”

Red Vest Way under construction.

Lowe's EVP of Supply Chain Don Frieson with new homeowner Cassandra.

Don Frieson, EVP of Supply Chain at Lowe’s expressed why this neighborhood means so much to Lowe’s, its associates and the Charlotte community. “Not only do we want to be a responsible retailer, we also want to be a responsible citizen. This is our piece of supporting the housing crisis here in Charlotte. The street name is in honor of all of our red vest associates who volunteered to build safe, affordable housing here in Charlotte, and across the country.”

Perhaps new homeowner Cassandra’s comments were the most poignant. “We’ve come a long way, and it’s a blessing. I thank God that I have a three-bedroom house.”

As Laura points out, it truly takes a community to make this happen. From large corporate partnerships to individual contributions, all actions have an impact. Can we count on you to make a difference, too? Explore the links below to learn how.

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