AIKEN, S.C. (WJFB) — A launching a major new program will soon be headed to Aiken, South Carolina.
“Some of the homes will need roofing, windows, storm doors, and things like that,” Sharon White told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk when asked about what repairs were needed to some homes in Wicklow Heights.
Soon, for some in the Wicklow Heights that may be a reality. Habitat for Humanity will be helping those who need repairs done to their property in the community. “So that it has that curb appeal but it also uplifts the entire neighborhood as you’re working on it,” Executive Director Yolanda Archuletta said.
Wicklow Heights is the first community chosen based on a number of factors. “We had to go through a lot of data that we had to comb through because we needed to work with people that own their own homes or have a mortgage on their homes,” she recalled. “Then we also had to look at data about the median household income for that neighborhood and that needed to be 60-80 percent or less of the federal median income for Aiken County,” she added. Her group also looked at crime rates in the area and determined which neighborhoods best matched that criteria and would have a willingness to partner. “So we have a relationship with one of the churches in that community, we own a construction warehouse in that community, and we have three habitat homeowners in that community so there is some buy-in. We felt there will be more willing to partner because of it,” Archuletta added.
We’re told Wicklow Heights is bordered by Hampton Avenue, Vaucluse Road, Perrin Street, and Church Street.
Critical home repairs on the interior of their homes will take place through an application process and an assessment. The home must be owner-occupied. Exterior work will start first, though, with a program meant to bring the entire community together, the “Neighbor Up!” program.
“So what we are going to do initially is do some community meetings over the next couple of months in Wicklow Heights get some folks together and get a willingness to partner with us on this initiative and then start assessing the exterior parts of the house to do the ‘Neighbor Up!’ part,” Archuletta shared. “After the first of the year, we’ll do some continual work on the exterior but we will also start the application process for the critical home repairs and that’s going to take longer,” she said. Financial consoling is one of the requirements to make sure homeowners who participate in the program cant contribute financially.
Each member of the household must agree to pitch in to help out. Both in the “Neighbor Up!” and the critical home repair, there is a contributing factor. “So for the neighbor up for the lawn care, there is a dollar price for the house repairs, there’s a dollar price and it’s just a flat rate. So it’s either $30 or $50 depending on the level of work that needs to get done,” she added.
Some sweat equity hours will also need to be put in.
“What sweat equity means is that you are going to be contributing something back. So let’s say its someone with a disability, or is incapable because of a health issue working out in the yard, they can serve juice or lemonade and cookies to the people who are volunteering,” Archuletta shared.
Meanwhile, funding will come from a number of sources including folks who already benefitted from the generosity of Habitat for Humanity.
“We’re starting this with funding we already have from mortgage payments from our homeowners so it is literally neighbors helping neighbors. They are making their mortgage payment every month and someone else home is going to get some repair work or someone else’s home is going to get built because we will continue to do our new construction,” Archuletta said.
Habitat for Humanity plans to make critical repairs to eight to 10 homes. The “Neighbor Up!” program will involve making improvements to 30 to 40 homes. The organization plans to spend an estimated $140,000 for the first year. The amount will grow as more and more houses come on board.
Sharon White has been living in the community for nearly two decades. She says she’s excited about what the future will bring. “I’m glad to hear that they are going to be doing something in the Wicklow Heights area,” she added.
The initiative is not a one-time deal, Habitat will continue to work in this community for about 10-15 years but in three years, they will go back to the drawing board to find another community that needs help, as well.
For more information about the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, call 803-642-9295 or visit habitataiken.org.