Across the street from Rock Hill's Emmett Scott Recreation Center and a short walk down Crawford Road from Clinton Junior College, work on a new house is almost finished.
That house was paid for with money from a $400,000 grant awarded to the college in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
College officials hope to add at least four more new affordable houses near the college with the 2005 grant and a $600,000 HUD grant awarded to the school in September. They also plan to renovate three houses.
"It adds to the assets of the neighborhood to have homeowners near the school," said Mickey Beckham, vice president for development at Clinton. "Home ownership is the American dream."
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The first house should be complete by the end of the year.
Ray Koterba, director of housing and neighborhood services for the city of Rock Hill, said homeowners often feel they have more of a stake in neighborhood happenings.
"It just seems like if you rent, it's not your house. It's not your yard. When things go on in the neighborhood, it's really not your business. You're not as engaged," Koterba said. "When you have home ownership, you care very much what goes on."
About $50,000 from the $600,000 grant also will be used to revitalize Carroll Park, near the recreation center.
Clinton President Elaine Copeland said she envisions the park as a place where students can relax, picnic or play ball.
Work on the park is expected to begin in May, she said.
Clinton is working with the city and other community organizations to make sure the grant benefits the community around the school.
"I think we become partners in the community," Copeland said. "It makes the area around the school more attractive. It increases the opportunities for a number of people in the community to have access to homes they would not have had access to initially."
Copeland said students will be able to take more pride in where they are as the area around the school becomes more attractive.
The college has been working with Family Trust Federal Credit Union to prepare potential buyers for home ownership.
In order to purchase one of the homes financed through Clinton's grants, a potential buyer must go through a two-day course to learn about credit, budgeting, mortgages and other information about owning a home.
"It's really kind of a holistic approach to get them prepared and have a better understanding of what it's going to mean to them when they do become a homeowner," said Ron Miller, senior vice president at Family Trust.
So far, Miller said 10 people have gone through the course. Copeland said three of them were approved to move forward with trying to purchase a home.
Homes financed through the grant will be up to 1,400 square feet in size with two or three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. They will be sold for no more than $90,000.
Any profits from the sale of the homes will go toward building and renovating more homes near the college, Copeland said.
College officials plan to establish a community development corporation to oversee the use of the grants. Students will have an opportunity to sit in on the board meetings.