Foundation to use grant to upgrade historic homes in Charleston
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Historic Charleston Foundation is celebrating $75,000 in grant money for its Common Cause Fund.
The fund provides partially forgivable loans to people who need help affording upgrades to the exterior of their historic homes in downtown Charleston.
The National Preservation Partners Network and The 1772 Foundation awarded the $75,000 grant to the Common Cause Loan Fund. Thanks to the money, crews will be able to finance at least three full-size projects restoring homes in historic areas.
HCF Manager of Easements and Technical Outreach April Wood says they launched the fund in 2022 and were able to do five projects for five-family homes.
“The whole mission and the point of the program is trying to keep long-term families in their homes and preserve the character of the historic neighborhoods and the people,” Wood says. “It’s not just about the buildings, it’s about the people and the people make up the culture and the character of the neighborhood.”
The foundation says it is a strict process to apply and get the project approval. People must qualify by their income, have a clear title to property with historic ties and the work must be exterior based. Work ranges from roof repairs to wood rot and window replacement. Each project has a cap of $60,000.
“People submit applications and then we interview them and learn a little bit about the history of the house and their family in the house,” Wood says. “These are very important houses to keep in their families and be able to for their children to come back when they want to and people have invested a lot of money in keeping their legacy and keeping the character of the houses intact.”
One of the main goals is to combat displacement for long-time families. The projects are meant to offset the day-to-day expenses of owning and living in a historic home.
“We know owning historic homes is more expensive generally,” Wood says. “And so we think providing these loans as a way to offset some of those costs to enable people to keep their homes in their families. So what we do, it’s not solving the whole affordability problem, but one by one it’s making a bit of an impact.”
Wood explains that selling the house to someone outside of the family triggers repayment, but until then, there is no repayment on the loan. She says making the Common Cause Fund successful has been and will continue to be a community effort.
The HCF works with Charleston Redevelopment Corporation, Charleston Area Urban League, The 1772 Foundation and construction and design companies. In 2023, HCF and partners have already started on two more projects.
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