COLUMBIA, Tenn. – A program has offered contractors and builders bottom dollar to improve vacant lots and homes, in order to make their community home again.
Trent Ogilvie knew the roads throughout east Columbia well. He passed each one of these homes countless times but every year the drive has looked just a little bit different.
Boarded windows and pealing paint have been replaced with new homes with curb appeal, all because of the Home Again Project. It was an initiative that began in 2013 to bring homeowners back to east Columbia.
"Let's make this home again, let's have families moving in," Ogilvie said.
Around 2010 the neighborhood was hit hard by crime. "We started seeing some decline in the neighborhood, crime increasing, people moving out, a lot more boarded up structures," Ogilvie explained.
In an effort to turn back time, the Advent Community Development Corporation was offering contractors and builders bottom dollar to turn around vacant lots and homes, "a thousand dollars gets you started," said Olgilvie.
The result, newly built and affordable homes around $80,000.
"The neighborhood didn't go into decline in five years so it's not going to come out of it in five years but if we lay the foundation I think we could look back and see we planted the seeds," said Ogilvie.
Homeowners like Vietnam veteran Charles Thomas were already reaping the benefits. He hoped others will join him soon. "Well more people in, Columbia may be a better and bigger town," he said.
The steady change has also inspired current homeowners to breathe new life into their properties. It was a sign the neighborhood is continuing to change for the better.
"Strong communities and neighborhoods are what make Columbia strong," Ogilvie said.
If you're interested in learning about ways to purchase a lot or a newly built home click here.