Building a house for a family is noble work. Revitalizing a neighborhood is transformational work. Neighborhood Revitalization (NR) supports the efforts of Habitat affiliates to transform entire communities, house by house, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. Habitat affiliates are not the architects of revitalization. Instead, they tailor their work to the aspirations and dreams of residents who take on leadership roles in their community’s renewal. NR also relies on partners such as churches, businesses, civic groups and neighborhood associations. By ceding the leadership role to residents and of engaging partners, Habitat ensures that the work will continue after the ministry moves to another neighborhood.
The Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative helps fulfill Habitat’s mission.
“Neighborhood Revitalization is the way of the future and is an essential element of Habitat’s work. By focusing on entire neighborhoods, we can greatly increase our impact.”
- Jonathan Reckford, CEO Habitat for Humanity International.
For more than 35 years, Habitat has excelled at the home and hope aspects of this mission. Through NR, the ministry is now focusing on the community part. When Habitat founder Clarence Jordan was creating partnership housing, the precursor to Habitat for Humanity, he talked about building a neighborhood, not just building houses. Today, NR takes its lead from affiliates inspired by the idea that the best way to serve God and end poverty housing is by extending a hand up to entire communities. In just three years, NR also has enabled Habitat to serve more families in the United States than ever before. While new home construction continues to play a vital role in Habitat’s work, so do critical home repairs, rehabs and weatherization. Since residents drive revitalization, the work of NR also can entail building playgrounds or ball fields, forming neighborhood watches, offering financial literacy programs, or constructing community centers or community gardens. Together, residents, local partners and Habitat for Humanity can change the face of neighborhoods and the lives of the families who live there — forever.
The first two houses were built by Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County in 1989. The organization has moved from building individual homes to building blocks and has developed plans for entire Habitat neighborhoods. The work in the Parkdale Community exemplifies the impact that the organization wants to make throughout Gaston County. Habitat Gaston has also built 19 homes in the Highland area, including Habitat’s first and second houses on Pryor Street. In 2010 the City of Gastonia gave ten Pryor Street lots in the Highland area to Habitat. Since that time we have received donations of three additional lots in that area. With a core of 13 lots Habitat plans to continue the revitalization project for the Highland area. Habitat’s efforts will contribute to 32 homeowner houses in the Highland neighborhood. Because of the hope that these builds bring to the community, this project is known as the “Street of Dreams”.