From Books and Gardens to Schools and Homes, Habitat’s Partnership with the Shiloh Community Continues to Grow

In 2014, we celebrated the completion of the nation’s very first “Pope Francis House”, an energy-efficient 4 bedroom/2 bath Habitat house in Shiloh that is now home to the Meadows family. This was the most recent of 41 single-family homes built by Asheville Area Habitat in the Shiloh community during the past 20 years. In the next 2-3 years, we will build 10 houses off Taft Avenue and a few others on in-fill lots.

New house construction is just one way in which Habitat has been involved in Shiloh, a historically significant community of Asheville. We have also completed numerous home repair projects for low-income homeowners, many of whom have lived in their homes for decades – like Eugene Rone. Work has included new roofs, siding repair and replacement, painting, heating system upgrades and more. All of this work is aimed at increasing safety, improving accessibility, and helping people live longer and better in the homes they already own.

Thanks to funds from Pisgah Investments Foundation and proceeds from the 2014 Biltmore Benefit ear-marked specifically for Home Repair projects in Shiloh, Habitat will do many more repair projects there in the next 1-3 years.

In 2013, Habitat helped build a storage shed and raised garden beds at the now-thriving Shiloh Community Garden.  Additionally, we were able to help the Community Association bring electric service to the garden and pavilion for the first time. Just recently, the Shiloh Community Association accepted a donation of land from Habitat, which sits behind the garden and adjacent to our Pope Francis House. Thrilled to have this parcel, the Association hopes a design professional will step forward to help them through the process of coming up with a vision for an expanded garden. Currently, classes and workshops are held at the garden, UNCA students and community residents raise fruits and vegetables in the beds, community yoga is offered Saturday mornings and the amphitheater (sponsored by Tupelo Honey) provides the community with a place for presentations and performances.

Another addition to the community came in the form of a Little Free Library (LFL). Dedicated last summer and located at the community garden across the street from the Shiloh Community Center, this LFL was the idea of a retired librarian living in the community and was constructed by Habitat volunteer Charlie Franck using some materials donated by Habitat. The initial collection of books came from the Habitat ReStore among other sources.

Last year, Habitat also partnered with Estes Elementary School. Though not geographically located within Shiloh, the school serves approximately 75% of elementary school-aged children who live in the Shiloh neighborhood. Habitat staff and volunteers built a storage closet, installed floors and painted walls in their new Community Resource Center. The Resource Center will provide food and clothing support for families of children attending the school and will work to connect those families to other resources in the community that they need.

Furthermore, just this week, one of our staff members, Ed McGowan, began teaching an 8-week Toastmasters Youth Training program. Held at the Linwood Crump Shiloh Community Center, it is a partnership with the City of Asheville’s Teenager Leadership Development Program.

Habitat is building off of a history of participation in the Shiloh community that started with new house construction back in 1992. Habitat is just one of many partners working alongside the Shiloh Community Association toward achievement of the goals laid out in the Shiloh Community Plan 2025 approved by Asheville City Council in 2010.  We are proud to leverage our skills and work alongside others with different proficiencies to work collectively to address needs that go well beyond housing.

Paul Reeves, Director of Construction Services for Asheville Area Habitat adds, “It is truly a pleasure for Habitat to be working in a community that has a clear vision for its future and residents who are organized, motivated and actively working toward increasing the quality of life for all of its community members. Shiloh has embraced our work in their community and sees us as a strong partner in providing affordable housing and home repair.”