Eastwood Homes is a regional homebuilder based out of Charlotte and building in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. They have a long-standing reputation of improving the communities in which they build and their recent involvement in Project H.O.M.E. in North Charleston, SC is no exception. To understand the scope of this project, it is first important to consider some statistics:
- About 1.6 million people in the US are homeless
- On average, 550,000 youth experience homelessness for a week or longer (per www.nn4youth.com)
- 795 children under the age of 18 experienced homelessness in South Carolina in 2016
It is staggering to think that these numbers relate to us here in the Lowcountry and pertain to kids in elementary, middle and high school that don’t have the most basic comfort of a stable home.
Project H.O.M.E. is an initiative pioneered by Charleston residents Angela Henderson and Kim Wilson (Charleston County's Executive Director of Secondary Learning and R.B. Stall High School's former principal) that is designed to address this issue for 17 teenagers attending Stall High School that are dealing with homelessness. According to the projects webpage, “Research shows a large drop-out rate among homeless students and Project H.O.M.E. aspires to provide them with much needed assistance to see these men through high school graduation, and potentially break the cycle of homelessness in their lives.” The goal of Project H.O.M.E. is to provide a home for these displaced teens that is along the bus route to Stall High School. This home will a safe environment with live-in house parents were they feel safe and supported and are allowed to thrive and be children. Eastwood Homes is building the first home in the Charleston area that is a part of this project, they celebrated the ground-breaking ceremony last Monday.
Eastwood New Home Specialist Johnny Merkle first met Angela Henderson of Project H.O.ME. in February when she visited an Eastwood new home community and mentioned the project to him. She described the type of home they needed for the project with a specific style of floorplan, layout and bedroom count. It occurred to Johnny that Eastwood Home had a move-in ready home that would perfectly suit these requirements. Angela agreed and visited the community again a week later to show the home to the project’s lead donor. Unfortunately, the available home had just sold to another buyer. Jonny recalls, “Initially, they were devastated, but I saw this as an opportunity for them to consider building a home from start to finish. Then, the wheels really started turning!” Johnny worked with Angela to design the perfect home including state-of-the-art Design Center upgrades, many of which were donated by Eastwood Homes. Johnny describes the experience as “the most fulfilling home sale” he has ever been involved with.
Eastwood Homes Division President Jason Esposito explains, “These boys are in a difficult situation that is no fault their own. The people around them who were supposed to provide stability couldn’t, for one reason or another, and unfortunately these young men are paying for it. We have an opportunity to make a difference in their lives and give them a real chance. How great would it be if we could somehow contribute to the success of one of these young men? Even better- how awesome would it be if we’re able to contribute to the success of 4 or 6 or 10? We believe this is the beginning of something great that will have a positive impact on some of our youth right here in our backyard.” This home was the first of many soon to come in the Charleston area for Project H.O.M.E. To learn more about Eastwood Homes, visit any of their Charleston area neighborhoods!
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