Virginia Housing’s Efforts to Support Affordable Housing Continues on the Eastern Shore
With a history of being economically depressed and geographically-challenged, rural towns like Exmore on the Eastern Shore have long struggled to provide safe, affordable housing for their residents. Ava Gabrielle-Wise, Executive Director of The New Road Community Group of Exmore, Inc., has made it her life’s work to improve housing conditions in Exmore, particularly for the predominantly African American neighborhood called New Road. Until the 1990s, most homes in the century-old community were without public water or sewer.
Today, Gabrielle-Wise’s efforts have culminated in the Legacy Project, which is a three-phase revitalization effort aimed at further improving the housing and economic conditions within the New Road community. With the help of public-private partnerships, the group broke ground on six new houses. Future phases include plans for a mixed-use development of affordable apartments and duplexes with commercial space, as well as development of more houses to support homeownership creation. Virginia Housing has worked closely with the New Road Group since its inception, providing some funding for construction, Community Impact Grants for site planning and engineering studies and, most recently, a Capacity Building Grant to help increase the ability of local nonprofits and developers to address affordable housing issues.
“For us, it’s about trying to create more opportunities and build local capacity,” said Chris Thompson, Virginia Housing’s Director of Strategic Housing. “Ava Gabrielle-Wise has been a tremendous partner who has fought really hard for the New Road community .”
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