“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46
Ancient Nazareth was like many modern urban neighborhoods; they must add “bad public image” to the list of every other significant challenge that they had to overcome. LCMS National Housing Support Corporation (NHSC) has been building new affordable housing in the Nazareth Homes Development in College Hill since 2013 and this effort is a reminder of another truth from God’s word: “Nothing will be impossible with God!” (Luke 1:37)
It’s been a busy year on Blair and Conde Avenues. Residents witnessed excavators and other equipment working in their neighborhood, removing an -abandoned home that sat for many years, replacing sidewalks, and preparing the site for the next new homes in the Nazareth Homes development.
Several of the new homes in the neighborhood were built on vacant lots, but others were built on sites that once contained drug-infested, crime-ridden, and dilapidated housing. While NHSC removed most of these houses through its blight elimination efforts, returning many lots to a buildable state, one abandoned home remained in private hands. In July 2017 that home was finally removed and the new scenery along Conde Avenue is a beautiful streetscape!
NHSC has also formed vital partnerships with political leadership in the neighborhood where the Nazareth Homes are located, including Dionne Flowers who served for many years as the Alderwoman for the 2nd Ward. Replacing crumbling sidewalks was a top priority for Alderwoman Flowers for more than a year. A few months ago, before leaving office, she was able to bring her priorities to fruition. New sidewalks and curbs were installed, enhancing the beautiful streetscape.
The next phase of the Nazareth Homes development has begun with the construction of new homes on Blair Avenue. One new home is under roof and within a few months four new homes will help to fill another swath of vacant and abandoned property in the neighborhood.
NHSC’s new homeowner marketing strategy has started to pay off in dividends. The Nazareth Homes development has attracted a mix of new residents to the neighborhood including a police officer and other city employees, and has helped to stabilize the neighborhood. Appraisal reports for the newest homes indicate that homes have appreciated in value by 25%, compared to the homes built just four years ago.
There is a great deal of hope that positive change is underway and that these positive changes will lead to revitalization of unprecedented scope for the College Hill neighborhood.