Thanks to the Housing Development Corp. of Rock Hill, city officials and dedicated volunteers, three more families will achieve the American dream of owning their own homes.
Officials with the Housing Development Corp. announced last week that three new energy-efficient homes will be built in Rock Hill’s Arcade Mill Village on Wright and Arcade streets. Each will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Construction of affordable homes in Arcade Mill Village and the nearby Hagins-Fewell neighborhood slowed during the housing slump brought on by the recent recession. But with the market picking up, residential building has become feasible again.
Prior to the recession, the Housing Development Corp. built 10 homes in the Arcade Mill Village area, all of which have been sold to families. The city also has invested millions of dollars in road paving and infrastructure improvements in the two neighborhoods, as well as amenities such as the walking and biking trail built in 2010 that runs from Hagins Street, along a small creek and ends at the old Arcade Mill smokestack.
That smokestack is among the only remnants of a mill that had stood for more than 100 years before being destroyed in a fire. The burned mill lay in ruins until the city demolished what remained of the buildings and conducted an environmental cleanup of the site. Over the years, the area has emerged as a growing neighborhood, site of new affordable homes, townhouses and apartments.
Potential buyers for all the homes built by the Housing Development Corp. have attended the city’s “First Time Homebuyer Program,” which educates families on the responsibilities and pressures of maintaining a home. Last year, the class swelled to 188 people, a 31 percent increase from 2014, with training on credit, mortgage finance and maintenance.
The course helps ensure that new owners not only can buy the homes but also maintain them and make regular payments.
As Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols noted in a recent commentary in The Herald, the city and the Housing Development Corp. are involved in more than simply building affordable homes to sell to low-income families. In essence, they and others are partnering in constructing the foundations of a stable, well functioning, downtown-area neighborhood upon which new residents can build and grow.
Crime rates in the area have dropped with more residential development and infrastructure upgrades. Hopes are that the improvements will set the stage for private developers to come in and invest.
Residents still are struggling with serious stormwater drainage problems and a lack of adequate utility infrastructure. And some existing homes are in serious disrepair.
But progress has been considerable, and the improvements are ongoing.
As Echols notes, affordable housing is a complex and ever-evolving community issue. But it also is a solid investment in providing a path to a better life for hundreds of residents and in solidifying a neighborhood that might otherwise be faltering.
We’re grateful to all who have worked to make these gains and hope the effort will continue.