Some of the regions lesser-known nonprofits are getting a big boost with $357,500 in grants from Bank of Americas charitable foundation.
The money, to be split among 12 area charities, is focused on programs that help working families get into affordable housing or help them maintain it, including foreclosure-prevention counseling.
Among the recipients are little-publicized agencies like Builders of Hope, Purple Heart Homes and Crossroads Corporation, all of which the bank sees as having a key role in solving one of the regions biggest challenges: A shortage of affordable housing.
Its a problem that has contributed to rising homelessness across the region, particularly among families. Recent surveys showed Mecklenburg Countys homeless families increased by 36 percent in 2010 and 21 percent in 2011. In all, homeless agencies estimate there are between 5,000 and 6,000 homeless in the county.
Charles Bowman of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation says the grants underscore the banks intent to help nonprofits addressing issues that are essential to advancing Charlottes economic vitality.
We recognize that housing plays a critical role in stabilizing communities and that its important to support innovative programs having an impact, Bowman said.
Builders of Hope is an example, creating affordable housing from existing homes while also revitalizing blighted neighborhoods. The small nonprofit, which received $25,000 of the grant money, has helped about 35 families get into homes since opening its Charlotte office in 2009.
Brenda Hayden of Builders of Hope said the agency got off the ground in Charlotte through a partnership with the city, when it acquired a foreclosed 23-unit apartment complex in the Thomasboro area west of uptown.
Its projects now include 10 single-family homes in the Lincoln Heights area, also acquired through foreclosure. In all, it has 25 renovations in progress.
Were a relatively new, small affordable housing developer...so its sometimes hard to be immediately recognized, said Hayden, noting the agencys annual operating budget is just shy of $200,000.
But 100 percent of the people we house, its their first time owning a home. Its a great thing to help people realize that dream. And with that, we are bringing community stability.
Ronald Barnes, 50, is among the agencys clients. He credits the Builders of Hopes mentoring classes with helping him budget his money, improve his credit rating and buy his first home, a three-bedroom, ranch-style house in west Charlotte.
I lived with my grandparents growing up, and this is exactly the kind of house that my grandmother would have loved, he said.
It has a nice, big porch where I can sit with my dog and watch it rain. It has a fenced-in backyard with a pear tree and pecan tree. I got nice neighbors, and its quiet. All I need now is for God to send me a wife.
Other charities given a share of the money include: Belmont CDC, Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions, Davidson Housing Coalition, Friendship CDC and Jackson Park Ministry. A few better-known nonprofits are also getting a share, including Community Link, Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte, the North Carolina Housing Coalition and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership.
The latter got the biggest chunk of money, $75,000, to help its mission of revitalizing inner-city communities on a large scale. One of its projects, the 98-acre BrightWalk in Historic Double Oaks, will top out at about 900 homes, including 300 affordable rental units.
So far, the project has been able to complete and rent 216 of the affordable units, officials said.