A project that aims to create several such homes officially is now a reality.
The City of Pickens hosted a ribbon-cutting last week on the South Lewis Street Affordable Housing project.
The homes, a project of the Allen Temple Corporation, developed in cooperation with the Pickens Savings and Loan Association, the City of Pickens, the SC Housing, Finance and Development Authority and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development are three bedroom homes. Some tenants have already begun to move in.
Several years ago, Allen Temple official Charlie Warth came to the city and asked for its support of the project, which aimed to provide affordable rental housing to a city neighborhood.
Now, the four homes at the corner of South Lewis Street and Lee Street are completed.
In addition to helping tenants secure an affordable place to live, the foundation provides a network of support, according to Bullock, a family case manager.
“We’ve done parenting classes, we’ve done health classes,” she said. “We do a lot of education. It’s not just you get in the house and we walk away and that’s it, because we want the families to prosper, move forward and go back to school.”
Haley Harned with the foundation recently helped a working mother with four children secure a scholarship that will help her with her educational goals.
“You really minister to them,” said Councilman Fletcher Perry. “You don’t just leave them there.”
The corporation follows HUD guidelines to find tenants. Tenants’ income must be 50-60 percent of area median income or below.
“There’s a chart,” Harned said. “If you’re a family of four, you can make this much or less. If you’re a family of three, you can make this much or less.”
Those whose incomes are above that percentage do not qualify for the housing.
“If, while they’re in the house, they get a raise or do better and get past that amount, they can stay in the house,” Harned said. “The rent will rise to reflect that, but we don’t just throw people out, punishing people for doing well.”
“It’s very rare if they quality that we deny someone,” Bullock said.
The corporation also helps tenants move to their goal of home ownership.
Andy Atkins with MERITUS said the new homes may have a larger impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
“That’s one of the reasons we enjoying (building the new homes),”Atkins said. “You start noticing everybody else starts taking pride in the neighborhood. Your next door neighbor starts cutting their grass. The neighbor across the street starts cleaning up the yard. It just brings the whole neighborhood up. That’s one of the things that excites us about doing it. You take a distressed property and make it valuable again. It becomes a source of pride for this whole area.”
Construction took about four months, he said.
Perry has been a strong support of the project. He thanked the council and the mayor for their support.
“It was a tough decision because we had to rezone the property and everybody was a little apprehensive because you had a new project coming to town,” Perry said. “With the results you can see right now, it has really benefitted the community as a whole and it’s given four new families a new home. It’ll serve the public really well.”
The city waived the water and sewer tap fees as a way to support the project.
Perry said he would love to see more such homes in Pickens.
He also thanked Pickens Savings and Loan and John Sparks.
These four homes have been in the works for about three years, officials said.
The foundation has other lots in the city, and is currently seeking funding to make those homes a reality.
“We should find out in the next few months what we’re able to do,” Harned said.
“Let’s do some more,” said Alex Gettys with Pickens Savings and Loan.