In 1974 Congress created the Community Development Block Grant Program and in 1975 Greenville County received its first grant administered by a newly created agency, the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority. Through GCRA, work was begun in the first target neighborhood, Brutontown. The CDBG funds could be used for clearance of slums and blight, public works improvements, community projects and housing rehabilitation. But they could not be used for new housing construction.
This limitation proved to be a real problem as GCRA attempted to revitalize Brutontown. So it devised a plan to buy houses that had been displaced by highways or other reasons, move them to lots purchased, rehabilitate them and sell them to low and moderate income homeowners.
As inventive and imaginative as this scheme was, the supply of available houses soon dried up and in the late 1980’s GCRA came up with a new idea: it would create a tax-exempt non-profit corporation, which would obtain property, construct new affordable houses in GCRA target neighborhoods and fund it with CDBG community projects money. Although skeptical, HUD could not find a reason to object to this plan.
Thus the Neighborhood Housing Corporation of Greenville, Inc. was born in 1989.
In its initial years, GCRA Board members from its Operations Committee also acted as board members for the NHC. An initial grant of $500,000 and some land capitalized the corporation and GCRA staff served as NHC staff. Gwen Kennedy, GCRA’s Operations Manager, served as the NHC’s first CEO.
With the land and money it received, the NHC began plans to build several houses in the West Brandon neighborhood, which was in between Brandon and Judson. As it looked into cost effective and time efficient ways of constructing houses, John Schroeder, GCRA’s Operations Committee Chairman and later Board Chairman, who worked for Daniel Construction Company, suggested that the company look at pre-engineered houses. This was truly a novel and new concept at the time and although there was some initial skepticism, a visit to the home plant of Muncie Homes in Ellenboro, NC convinced the NHC Board that the quality of the homes was excellent and this was the way to go. This company is now All-American Homes.
Since the houses were built in sections, trucked in and assembled on site, the NHC was concerned about public perception that these homes were simply mobile homes. So it decided that the first home would be a two story Cape Cod style house. It had the desired effect and was used as a model home, the Corporation’s office and its Board meeting place for several months as other homes were constructed and sold. The whole project was a success and those homes remain as the anchor for that community today.
In 1990, the NHC and the GCRA determined that in order to avoid HUD criticism and conflicts of interest, the corporation needed to begin to develop its own Board and staff. Therefore, it restructured its Board with a majority of individuals not from the GCRA’s Board, and hired a President to run the day to day operations.
In 1991, Congress created the HOME Partnership program which provided grants to current CDBG recipients for new construction and set aside fifteen (15%) of its grant to be given to community non-profits called CHDOs if they met certain requirements. The NHC Board worked to meet those requirements and it has been GCRA’s primary CHDO since that time. With these funds it could also hire a small staff.
During the next several years, the NHC utilized HOME grants from the South Carolina Housing Authority which had its own HUD funds. It was certified as a State CHDO and used the money to acquire land and develop new subdivisions. It purchased homes from All American Homes and the profit from the sale of those houses and some grant funds paid its administrative costs. It began subdivisions in Travelers Rest, Sans Souci (Sampson village), Mauldin (Rainbow Place), West Greenville (Lloyds Acres), in Woodruff in Spartanburg County and purchased lots in Berea Forrest and Sanctified Hill in Ft. Inn helping many families achieve their goal of home ownership.
Today, the NHC is continues to be GCRA’s main CHDO, is working in Greer, Simpsonville and is always looking for lots through out the upstate. NHC is partnering with GCRA in the target neighborhoods of Brutontown for Senior Rental Homes as well as other single family residences.
With NHC's Executive Director, Misty Rae, it is a new day for NHC under the guidance of this Board and her leadership. Regardless of the efforts of other non-profits and organizations, you can take pride in the fact that the NHC is the oldest and most successful non-profit provider of affordable housing in Greenville County. With NHC’s partnership with GCRA and it's experienced leadership, the corporation is limited only by its vision and desire to reassume its rightful position as Greenville County’s premier non-profit provider of affordable housing.
New programs have been added to include foreclosure prevention through SC Help and Owner-Occupied Rehab through SC Housing Trust Funds. New partnerships are being formed with neighboring counties. Contact us today to see how we are able to help you.