Lake Norman & Mooresville

Mooresville, nonprofits planning to build transitional home for low-income family

Mooresville is preparing to pay for the construction of a single-family house that will serve as a transitional home for a low-income family, moving forward with an agreement with two nonprofits working to reduce poverty here.

The agreement formally approved last month is part of a housing initiative begun last year by the nonprofits, the Christian Mission of Mooresville/Lake Norman and Community Foundations Inc. Together, they will manage the property and provide counseling and educational services there, among other things.

Although it will house only one family, the dwelling is part of a wide-ranging effort to address a “critical housing need in our community,” said Tim Brown, a senior planner for the town. Homeownership, he added, “provides stability to the community.”

Expected to contain three bedrooms and two baths, it is planned for vacant property in the historic Cascade community, where the town has built affordable housing over the years with the help of Community Foundations. A nonprofit community development corporation the town helped create in the mid-1990s, it has since acquired more than a dozen properties, many of them in Cascade.

Under the Oct. 5 agreement, the town will buy the property from the nonprofit for $10,000, using funds from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Each year, the town receives about $75,000 in those funds, Brown said, which are designated for low- and moderate-income housing.

That money will go toward building the house, and the town has hired Community Foundations to oversee construction.

All told, the town could use as much as about $140,000 in HUD funds to pay for the project, including a 25 percent match, Brown said. It does, however, expect to receive a “considerable” amount of donations, he noted, including $30,000 in in-kind donations and a small grant if the house meets energy-saving standards.

Mooresville has helped build affordable housing over the years, hiring the Centralina Council of Governments regional planning organization to administer its community development program.

But this is the first time it has entered such an agreement, part of the Homeless to Homeownership initiative. A collaborative effort between Community Foundations and the Christian Mission, the initiative is meant to bring stability to more moderate- and low-income people, including those without a home or on the verge of homelessness, by helping them improve their financial situation and find permanent housing that costs no more than 30 percent of their monthly income.

In addition to developing affordable housing, Community Foundations offers financial counseling services, including to those seeking to buy a house after undergoing foreclosure. Among the services the Christian Mission provides to thousands of families experiencing hunger and financial insecurity are food assistance, job-training programs and transitional housing, as well as financial support.

“We’re not really concerned with the number of homes we’re able to build; we’re concerned with getting them stable,” Valerie Chamberlain, executive director of the Christian Mission, said of the people working with the nonprofits.

The town and the nonprofits expect to select a tenant for the planned transitional home before it is built, said Kathie Brantley, executive director of Community Foundations. The nonprofit must begin doing so within about five months, according to the agreement, with preliminary construction on the wooded property expected to begin in the next two months.

The tenants would have to take part in the initiative while renting the house, spending time working to improve their credit, save money and pay their bills. To help pay for rent and maintenance is a $30,000 grant from the philanthropic arm of Ingersoll Rand, an industrial equipment manufacturer, that was awarded to the Christian Mission.

“It’s a commitment,” Brantley said.

Within two years of moving in, the tenant is expected to buy the house from the town, though that could take place in as soon as six months, she said. The money from that sale would go back into the town’s community development program.

“We really do hope to repeat this,” Brantley said of the agreement, which is meant to lay the framework for future ones.

Jake Flannick is a freelance writer: