‘This is a dream come true’: Affordable housing program transforms lives on the East End

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:09 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 8:20 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A cohort of non-profits is transforming lives on the East End through an innovative pilot program that provides affordable housing to low-income families.

It is a day that Tamika Daniel and her new neighbor Lastarsha Taylor will never forget.

“When I say, ‘I thank everybody from the bottom of my heart,’ people don’t understand how life-changing this is for me and the other family - like they really don’t,” said Daniel, a single mother of four. “I go through so much where I live at now.”

“I’m shocked like honestly, I didn’t expect this much,” said Taylor, a single mother of two. “This is like a dream come true.”

On Thursday, members of the non-profits The Maggie Walker Community Land Trust (MWCLT), Urban Hope, Peter Paul and ReWork Richmond hosted a grand opening for two newly constructed homes that Daniel and Taylor will rent off North 21 Street.

Representatives from Bank of America and other companies that helped fund the project were present. Eagle Construction is behind the build.

The project combines stable housing, workforce development and family support services. For the last 20 years, Urban Hope has dedicated its services to East End residents seeking affordable rental opportunities. The non-profit also puts residents on the path to homeownership if they want it.

Currently, Urban Hope, which purchased the new housing units for $70,000 from MWCLT, has 21 units that are being rented on that side of town and four homes that residents own. Sarah Hale, who serves as executive director of the non-profit, said the additional funding will determine more growth within the next year and a half. She said at least 15 more units are anticipated.

“When people have places to live that they can afford, things are easier for them in terms of holding down a steady job, having their kids consistently in the same school and better health,” said Hale, who was moved by the families’ appreciation.

According to Hale, the newly constructed homes off North 21 Steet would go for a market price of $1,500 in rent, but the non-profit will offer it for $750 per month. This is a big help to Daniel and Taylor, who are doing it all alone.

“Most of our tenants are below 50 percent of the area’s median income, so right now, for a family of four it’s somewhere around $45,000 a year,” Hale explained. “That’s typically who we serve.”

Each home is outfitted with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and plenty of space to spread out. The kitchen has granite countertops and a laundry room steps away. It is a welcomed change for both moms and their children, who had little space to move around.

“Everybody is most excited about the kitchen, but I’m most excited about this,” said Daniel as she eagerly ran to her very own bathroom in her new bedroom. “Sharing a bathroom with four children - as you can imagine - is tough.”

Taylor said her mother, who passed away last Christmas, would be excited for the fresh start if she was alive today. Sitting on the step outside of her new home, she said her mother spoke it into existence.

“She’s up there working her magic for me and the kids, so I just look forward to lots of family gatherings, happy moments, a brighter future,” said Taylor, who smiled just thinking about how far she has come.

If you’d like to learn more about the affordable housing program or apply for it, visit Urban Hope.

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