February 28, 2013

The Harvest Project: “Your church’s land…your congregation’s vision”

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It’s said that faith can move a mountain. And if that “mountain” is finding a way to use land a congregation already owns to build affordable housing, our faith-based initiative can help make it happen. Since 2008, VHDA’s Harvest Project has been assisting congregations that want to use their land to construct affordable single family homes or accessible housing for seniors. Whether the congregation’s vision is to buy existing housing to rehabilitate, to tackle the challenge of revitalizing their older, urban communities or to simply help members of their community prepare to buy and own a home, the Harvest Project is a partner it can count on.

The Harvest Project is specifically designed for faith-based organizations functioning as 501(c)(3) non-profit Community Development Corporations (CDCs) – or organizations aspiring to obtain this designation – with developable land that can generate affordable housing opportunities. VHDA works in partnership with faith-based organizations to address local community housing needs, examine a range of options and develop an action plan. Support can include staff outreach, assistance with capacity building and even financial resources.  To date, VHDA has provided $250,000 in Harvest Project planning grants – ranging from $5,000 and $10,000 – to assist churches with their housing projects.

Currently the Harvest Project is working with communities of faith in Danville, Northern Virginia, Petersburg, Richmond, Tidewater, Wakefield and York County to help them achieve their dreams of providing affordable housing on their land. This includes 35 churches that are participating in the program, 15 congregations that have become 501(c)(3) non-profit developers and five congregations that have broken ground on projects.

Has your faith-based organization has gotten involved in community development? If so, we’d love to hear all about it. You can also email me if you’d like additional information about the Harvest Project.

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