Fauquier Habitat for Humanity and the PATH Foundation announced today an investment in affordable housing through the Haiti Neighborhood Revitalization initiative. Funded by a $1,050,000 grant, Fauquier Habitat has taken ownership of five properties comprising nine living spaces. The initiative allows Fauquier Habitat to lead a focused neighborhood revitalization program to preserve Haiti Street history while ensuring quality affordable housing.
Christy Connolly, PATH Foundation president and CEO, said this is an important step in tackling a difficult problem. “Availability of affordable housing in our area is a real issue, and it is challenging to find ways to chip away at the problem. We believe that the Fauquier Habitat effort is very strong because of its extensive planning and partnership with neighborhood residents, the Town of Warrenton, and other regional and national organizations with proven success in these efforts.”
Fauquier Habitat Executive Director Darryl Neher added, “Fauquier Habitat values the PATH Foundation’s ongoing support of our efforts to protect and expand the availability of permanently affordable housing in Fauquier and Rappahannock counties. With this significant grant, we have acquired five properties on Haiti Street, bringing our total inventory to 11 properties, representing 20 units of housing. In doing so, we’re getting in front of potential gentrification of the neighborhood to protect affordable housing within walking distance of historic Old Town. What’s next is a strategic-planning process to help us identify how to best utilize the properties in pursuit of fulfilling our mission to ensure everyone has a safe, decent and affordable place to live.”
The planning process will allow residents of the neighborhood, Fauquier Habitat staff, town officials, architects Jim Hricko, representatives from HD Advisors, Virginia Housing Development Authority, Virginia Community Development Corporation, and other interested community partners to determine possibilities for the neighborhood. This significant process is expected to take six to 12 months.
Kirsten Dueck, PATH Foundation senior program officer, has worked on the effort since it was first envisioned three years ago. “We continue to be impressed with Fauquier Habitat’s efforts to collaborate with neighbors, community members and experienced organizations to make certain this revitalization program is approached thoughtfully. The PATH Foundation’s grant provides for the purchase of the properties, but also for hiring essential project staff to shepherd the process.”
She added, “It has been incredibly special to be part of a group of people truly committed to honoring the Haiti Street neighborhood history and to working together toward its healthy and vibrant future.”
Fauquier Habitat’s Director of Community Development Mary Correia has been instrumental in the project’s inception and development. She said, “From the earliest days of our neighborhood revitalization work, PATH has fundamentally understood the importance of Habitat’s aspiration to protect this culturally and historically significant neighborhood from market-rate gentrification, and supported our work in helping residents identify and realize goals for a sustainable, improved quality of life in their community. It is so gratifying to be able to embark on this next phase of the journey because of this extraordinary demonstration of the foundation’s buy-in to our vision of building not just homes, but healthy, thriving communities.“
Carolina Gomez-Navarette has also been involved in the planning of the project, as a Fauquier Habitat board member and Habitat homeowner/Haiti Street resident. She said, “I am thankful for PATH’s generosity and for God putting me on this path with Habitat. Sometimes I cannot believe I am part of this work to make our community better.”