Monday, April 8, 2013

Mountain Housing Opportunities: Building Homes as a Community

This blog is part of our 35th Anniversary Celebration series, highlighting NeighborWorks member organizations which are celebrating milestone years marking either their membership in the network or their incorporation as an organization.

By Brittany Hutson, NeighborWorks
America Public Relations fellow

Twenty-five years ago, a group of 10 volunteers completed seven home repairs in seven months for seniors in the Asheville area. These repairs included roof and porch repairs, replacing furnaces, correcting electrical hazards, and water and sewer problems. Out of this effort was born Mountain Housing Opportunities, a community development corporation based in Asheville, North Carolina, that builds and improves homes, neighborhoods, and communities for people of Asheville and Buncombe County. Several of those volunteers served on the original board of directors of Mountain Housing, including Executive Director Scott Dedman. Today, the organization completes 150 emergency home repairs each year for families with children and elderly and disabled homeowners.

In the early 1990s, Mountain Housing moved into developing single family homes and affordable/workforce apartments, and later townhomes and condominiums for first-time homebuyers.  Since the financial crisis, Mountain Housing has temporarily stopped producing multifamily homes for homeownership.

Self Help Homeownership families work together to frame a house
“We are building single family homes and have expanded our production of apartments since the rental market continues to expand dramatically,” says Dedman. As part of the organization’s single family home development effort, Mountain Housing worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development office to start a Self-Help Homeownership program, where families spend approximately 20 hours per week building their own homes for about eight months. “We build six homes per years with families through that program,” explains Dedman. Production for apartments averages about 60 per year. To date, 535 apartments have been completed.

Two members of the six Self Help HomeOwnership
families measure wood to cut for their home
Mountain Housing became a NeighborWorks charter member five years ago, and since then, Dedman says the organization has dramatically grown in production and services. For example, after becoming a member, Mountain Housing began a down payment assistance program that provides an average of 25 to 30 homebuyers per year with loans for as much as $15,000 per home.

Since Mountain Housing earned a LEED Gold certification for a building completed in 2010, they have been incorporating even more green features into their developments. Dedman is also proud that Mountain Housing has helped more than 4,500 families and individuals. “We’ve saved people’s homes and lives through emergency repair,” he says. “We’re providing families with children and elderly and disabled folks a safe and attractive apartment in good neighborhoods. We’ve helped families move up in their quality of life.” 

Learn more about Mountain Housing Opportunities at