Blackville group opens new low-income houses

Brick by brick and house by house, the Blackville Community Development Corporation is hoping to improve Blackville from the ground up.

On Feb. 6, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the end of a four-year project for the BCDC.

The nonprofit community group swung open the doors of four modular homes on South Boundary Street for low-income families to rent.

BCDC members, as well as community and area figures, toured the three-bedroom, two bathroom homes after the ribbon-cutting.

"This is a big plus for Blackville," said Blackville Town Councilwoman Ann Pernell.

The houses and property - totaling about $514,000 - were funded by two grants from S.C. State House Finance and Development Authorities, said Evelyn Coker, the executive director for the BCDC.

"Four years ago, the organization realized there was a housing shortage in the community," said Mark Bauerlin, the vice chairman for the BCDC. "This is a start in changing the dynamics of Blackville."

Previosly, South Boundary Street had 26 properties and 13 were abandoned, said BCDC Chairwoman Gwen Littlejohn.

Two families are moving into two of the homes, but the other two await tenants, said Coker.

Low-income guidelines for tenants are determined by median county incomes and the number of people in a household, said Coker.

The BCDC has been bringing good news to Blackville for eight years.

Since 2003, the BCDC has rehabilitated 20 houses and given $40,000 in assistance to people buying homes, said Bauerlin.

Rehabilitation is done for the elderly and handicapped and it includes safety and code concerns as well as infrastructure repair, said Coker.

The BCDC will soon start phase two of the South Boundary Street Project, Bauerlin said.

Phase two will include building four new houses on the street, he said.

South Boundary Street had 26 properties of which 13 were abandoned, said Littlejohn.

Other projects for the organization include the ongoing rehabilitation of houses and the H.O.P.E Center, said Bauerlin.

The BCDC will soon conduct a feasibility study to renovate the old middle school building on Baker Street, he said.

The H.O.P.E. Center would house a family care center, adult education section and possibly business offices.

"All news in the area is not bad news - this is good news," said S.C. Rep. Lonnie Hosey, who was on hand for the ceremony.

The Blackville CDC meets on the first Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Blackville Town Hall and the meetings are open to the public. For information on renting the houses call or leave a message at (803) 284-0735.