Abandoned nursing home to become affordable housing community

Abandoned nursing home to become affordable housing community
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 5:57 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The once Seven Hills Health Care Center in Richmond’s and Henrico’s East End will soon become an affordable housing community.

$23 million in funding will transform the abandoned building into Cool Lane Commons affordable housing community. It’s Virginia Supportive Housing’s first affordable housing project in Henrico County.

Henrico, Richmond and local faith leaders broke ground at the site Wednesday.

It will offer 86 one-bedroom, one-bathroom units with a kitchen for homeless or low-income individuals. A fitness area, computer lab, and laundry room will also be included for resident use. The renovation comes at a time when rising rent costs are forcing people out of their homes.

“In Richmond, we are experiencing - we have 19- 20% of individuals who are living under the poverty line. A number of our kids are living in poverty,” Richmond’s Mayor Levar Stoney said.

It’s a growing issue he said takes a village to overcome.

“We always are trying to divide and say ‘the church and the state and church and government can’t work together,’ but we are seeing that it can be done,” Patricia Gould-Champ said.

Gould-Champ has been the pastor at Faith Community Baptist Church which sits across the street from the Cool Lane Commons, for nearly 30 years. She’s had her eyes set on the building since it closed in 2008.

“I knew that we couldn’t afford that building across the street, but I knew what we didn’t want it to be. We didn’t want to be another store or another this or that,” Gould-Champ said.

The city of Richmond promised years ago that businesses must include the church in any plans for the building moving forward.

“Everybody was turned down until finally, they sent Allison to me with the Virginia Supportive Housing [and] their vision of affordable housing, and immediately I connected with her,” Gould-Champ said.

Her mission to empower the community will continue by offering on-site services to residents trying to get back on their feet.

“This is going to help with that because there is a group that is coming from shelters that will live across the street, but also there are apartments for those that cannot find affordable housing, and that’s the greatest need,” she said.

Cool Lane Commons is expected to open in 2023.

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