Evelyn Gaston was 9 years old in 1971, when she lived with her mother and grandmother at 18 Wright St. in Rock Hill.
Over the years, she raised her daughter in that home. And her daughter had her first child there.
Life got away from Gaston soon after. She was unable to pay for the home, which led to it being demolished around 15 years ago.
Then, she says, “God put special people” in her path. After learning recently that a new home was being built in that same spot, she went to her friends in city government.
“After that, I didn’t have to do much,” said Gaston. “People jumped right on in to help me, everybody stepped in to make sure I would get back on that property.”
Gaston was among four people who spoke Thursday about how the Housing Development Corporation of Rock Hill (HDCRH) changed their lives for the better. The affordable housing organization held its annual luncheon and meeting at Manchester Meadows, with guests including Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols and members of the City Council.
The nonprofit organization was formed by local government and community leaders to help low- to moderate-income residents with housing needs through education and financial assistance.
The HDCRH signed off last year on the construction of three new affordable housing units in the Arcade Mill Village, including on Gaston’s old home. She said she moved into her new energy-efficient house, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, on July 20.
I’m back home, I’m back home. I just can’t explain it. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced before. It is wonderful.
“To be able to get my property back, it’s marvelous,” she said. “I’m back home, I’m back home. I just can’t explain it. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced before. It is wonderful.”
Each potential buyer for a home created by the housing corporation goes through the city’s “First Time Homebuyer Program,” which helps to educate families on the responsibilities and pressures of maintaining a home.
The class helps people with tips on credit, mortgage finance and home maintenance.
Another speaker, Cindy Feaster, purchased a home with help from the housing corporation in 2008. In March 2016, the home she lived in with her mother and aunt burned down.
She said that the corporation did everything it could to make sure the mortgage lien was paid in full by Feaster’s insurance company.
I’m so grateful for everyone down there.
“I still get calls everyday from (HDCRH) to see how I’m doing,” said Feaster. “I’m so grateful for everyone down there.”
What has the HDCRH been up to?
The housing corporation says it has served 697 families this year.
The corporation has repaired nearly 70 homes, sold three units of affordable housing, and helped 200 people enter first time homebuyer education classes.