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Claiborne Square Senior Apartments was completed in 2011 with 47 apartments for senior adults 55 years and older.
The ROPCDC has a mission “to redevelop and revitalize the human and physical capital in the Greater Harding Street-Delectable Heights neighborhood of Petersburg, Virginia, also known as the Halifax Community.” This historically significant community had, through decades of disinvestment and neglect, become an area that needed help on a massive scale. Though the ROPCDC had reinvested its time, energy and dollars through many valuable projects throughout the area, its board knew that there was more to be done. They also knew that, with the aid of outside organizations, ROPCDC’s mission could become a reality.
One of the critical needs ROPCDC identified was the shortage of safe and decent housing for the area’s senior residents. In its focus neighborhood, over 25% of the homes were abandoned, 70% of the existing housing stock was low-income rental units and the neighborhood was plagued by an active drug trade as well as criminal activity. Following guidance and facilitation by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), in late 2008, the ROPCDC entered into a partnership with the Richmond-based Better Housing Coalition (BHC) to construct Claiborne Square Apartments, a 47-unit complex of affordable housing for low and moderate-income residents ages 55 and older. This was the first housing development resulting from LISC’s community engagement process and represented a significant outcome from the Petersburg Strategic Investment Plan.
At the same time that the members of the ROPCDC board were excited about the venture and its impact on their community, they also were aware that they needed additional skills to oversee a building initiative of this magnitude. With members having experience in human services but little background in housing and community development, they knew they needed help. In early 2009, the ROPCDC approached The Cameron Foundation to request a grant for technical assistance for board development as well as the funds to support the hiring of a full-time executive director.
The Foundation approved the grant request and, leveraging an additional cash match and technical assistance from LISC, the ROPCDC hired a consultant to help the board build its organizational infrastructure, create a strategic plan and launch the search for an experienced executive director.
In November 2009, construction crews broke ground for Claiborne Square Apartments. Payne emphasized that the development is expected to “…change the face of the Halifax community and act as a catalyst for new investment in the neighborhood.” Given the city’s need for indigenous nonprofit housing developers, the ROPCDC is a welcome resource toward that end. Another welcomed addition is the beautiful new apartment facility that has become a beacon of light and hope for the area.