It all started IN 1974 when…
Congress created the Community Development Block Grant Program and in 1975 Greenville County received its first CDBG grant to be administered by the newly created Greenville County Redevelopment Authority (GCRA). Through GCRA, work began in the first target neighborhood, Brutontown. These 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.
NHC is the oldest non-profit provider of affordable housing in Greenville County, and as such, has long been a leader and paved the way for other similar organizations in our County.
This limitation proved to be a real problem as GCRA worked to revitalize Brutontown. So it devised a plan to buy houses that had been displaced by highways or other reasons, move them to purchased lots, rehabilitate them, then sell them to low and moderate income homeowners.
As inventive and imaginative as this plan was, the supply of available houses soon dried up and, in the late 1980’s, GCRA came up with a new idea: create a tax-exempt non-profit corporation funded with CDBG community projects money which would obtain property and construct new affordable houses in GCRA target neighborhoods. Although skeptical, HUD could not find a reason to object to this plan.
Thus the Neighborhood Housing Corporation of Greenville, Inc. (NHC) 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, 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 was also an employee of Daniel Construction Company, suggested that the NHC look at pre-engineered houses. This was truly a novel and new concept at the time. 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. That 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 site for several months as other homes were constructed and sold. The whole project was a success and those homes remain an anchor of that community today.
In 1990, the NHC and the GCRA determined that in order to avoid HUD criticism and conflicts of interest, the corporation must develop a truly independent Board and staff. And so, the NHC 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 percent of its funds to be given to community non-profits called CHDOs (Community Housing Development Organizations), if they met certain requirements. The NHC Board worked to meet those requirements and became GCRA’s primary CHDO. With these funds, it could also hire a small staff.
During the next several years, the NHC became a certified State CHDO to be able to utilize HOME grants from the South Carolina Housing Authority, which had its own HUD funds, to acquire land and develop new subdivisions. It purchased houses from All-American Homes and the profits from the sale of those homes along with some grant funds paid the administrative costs. The NHC began subdivisions in Travelers Rest, Sans Souci (Sampson village), Mauldin (Rainbow Place), West Greenville (Lloyds Acres), and Woodruff in Spartanburg County and purchased lots in Berea Forrest and Sanctified Hill in Fountain Inn, thereby helping many families achieve their goal of home ownership.
Today, the NHC continues to be a CHDO with the GCRA and SC Housing Authority. It is working in Greer, Simpsonville, and Greenville and Spartanburg Counties and is always looking for lots for potential projects throughout the Upstate. Most recently, NHC has begun providing homes for rent and has partnered with GCRA in the target neighborhoods of Brutontown for senior rental homes and Poe Mill for single family rental residences. New programs have been added to include foreclosure prevention through SC HELP and owner-occupied rehab of homes through the SC Housing Trust Fund and in partnership with Spartanburg County Community Development Department.
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