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Celebrating 20 Years

Join us on a trip down memory lane, a lot has changed over the last 2 decades and some photos below indicate how we have aged, the organization that is... 

When Wayne McVicker moved into the apartment on the ground floor of 409 Progress St. in Fredericksburg, it was the first time in 12 years that he was able to live independently.

Since a swimming pool accident left him paralyzed from the chest down at age 27, McVicker, now the president and CEO as well as executive director of the board of HOME Inc., has used a wheelchair to get around. For years, he lived with his brother and sister-in-law in non-accessible houses and apartments where he was essentially stuck indoors.

In 1998, McVicker was heading back to Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center because his health was failing and he “needed a tune-up,” he said. Before he left, he applied for one of the four apartments in the new Progress Street building, which was being built by local developer Jesse Franklin to also house the Disability Resource Center.

Franklin accepted his application and told McVicker’s family, “Tell Wayne he has an apartment here.” “He held it for me from January until June,” McVicker said. 

 

Franklin found that he was inundated with applications for the four accessible apartments. And he had the idea to purchase and renovate several other properties in Fredericksburg to make them accessible for people with physical or intellectual disabilities. 

 

Franklin invited McVicker to join the board of the new nonprofit group he decided to found—Housing Opportunities Made Economical or HOME.

Twenty years later, the organization is still providing housing opportunities for people with disabilities who can and want to live independently.

“Whether the person’s had a disability for 20 years or one year, whether they’re homeless and getting off the streets, whether they’ve gone through rehab programs at RACSB—all those people have come through our doors,” McVicker said.

HOME now owns and leases 47 rental units in the area, including seven single-family homes and “a slew” of one- and two-bedroom apartments, McVicker said.

 

 With loans from the Virginia Housing Development Authority, the organization built three apartment complexes—two in Fredericksburg on either side of Lafayette Boulevard and one off U.S. 1 in Stafford—all universally designed for accessibility.

 

Doris Downey, the vice president of HOME’s board of directors, moved into one of the organization’s apartments off Lafayette in 2001. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 30, she has had two knees and a hip replaced, and at the time, used a wheelchair to get around. 

 

When she found the Lafayette apartment, she had been looking for an accessible one for three years. She told friends about the complex and many of them ended up moving there as well. 

 

“So they asked me to come sit on the board, because I was getting them so many clients,” Downey joked.  “I love HOME Inc.,” she continued. “They have been so good and kind to me.” 

 

She said she feels blessed to have been able to help so many people through her work with the organization. Some of the clients who have stuck with her include a woman who was missing both legs below the knee and had been forced to crawl up the stairs in previous non-accessible homes and a young man who was blind in both eyes.

“Over the 18 years, there have been many cases like that,” Downey said. “And there is more need now than there was then. People wouldn’t have such a hard time if there were more people who thought about building for lower-income folks.”

 

 McVicker said HOME provides affordable housing opportunities, but is not low-income housing. “To me, affordable means lower than the fair market rent and lower than comparable properties,” he said.

HOME’s properties rent for between $720

a month for an efficiency and $940 a month

for a two-bedroom apartment. 

 

The 2018 fair market rent for Fredericksburg,

which is set by the U.S. Department of

Housing and Urban Development, is $1,300

for an efficiency and $1,570 for a two-bedroom. 

 

McVicker said HOME is able to keep rents low

because it has only two paid employees on

staff: a maintenance supervisor and an office

manager.   The managing board of officers

and directors are all volunteers from our

community. 

 

It also doesn’t offer extra amenities such as gyms or swimming pools and it gets low-cost

loans from the Virginia Housing Development Authority to build its properties.

HOME’s properties are not government-subsidized, low-income housing. McVicker said the organization hoped to build this type of housing on property it bought in Bowling Green, but its application for the government subsidy was not approved.

“There are just too many people trying to get a piece of that pie,” McVicker said.  Still, he wanted the project to be built.  “It didn’t matter if it was us or someone else,” he said. “The need is so, so great.”

McVicker sold the land to Project Faith, the King George-based low-income housing development nonprofit group, and Angelwood at Caroline was completed in 2015.

McVicker said HOME is now in the second year of a three-year plan to reinvest funds into its properties, many of which are nearing 20 years old. Once that is complete, he would like to build another single-family home—with four bedrooms, for a family—and build another accessible apartment complex in Spotsylvania County.

“The need is never going to go away,” he said. “We could build 100 more apartments and they’d all be filled.”

He said that what Jesse Franklin gave him back in 1998 was “so much more than an apartment.”

“If Mr. Franklin had never built [that building], if he had never asked me to be part of HOME, I would have just been sitting in an apartment watching TV, just trying to get through each day,” he said. “What he gave has been life-sustaining.”

 

 Fredericksburg's HOME Inc. celebrates 20 years

of providing affordable, accessible housing