Danville city officials joined other area leaders and citizens Wednesday morning in celebrating the grand opening of The Center for Housing Education, where families and individuals can learn about every aspect of homeownership.
Mayor John Gilstrap said the center, which is located at 502 Franklin St., is truly unique.
“It is not only the first of its kind in Danville, but also the first in Virginia,” Gilstrap said at the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Here at The Center for Housing Education, families and individuals will receive instruction through courses and hands-on learning that will build their knowledge in every aspect of homeownership and provide them with the tools and experience they need to thrive and succeed.”
This instruction will include personal financial management, home mortgage financing and home maintenance.
“In addition, the center will emphasize the need to be a good neighbor by staying active in the community in which they live,” Gilstrap said.
While there may be other agencies and organizations that provide tutelage on homeownership, this center will be the first to offer hands-on coaching on how to maintain a home, including how to spot and prevent potential problems and how to make home repairs.
The second floor of the center contains a large-scale house model that will be used to teach homeowners about various aspects of roofs, gutters, plumbing, utility lines, placement of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, drywall installation and repairs, etc.
Gilstrap said the center will boost the City’s efforts in blight eradication and neighborhood stabilization by encouraging first-time homeownership and the alternative means of home mortgage financing available to meet the potential homebuyer’s ability to pay.
“The families and individuals who will be served by this center are part of the future of our city,” Gilstrap said. “When they succeed, the city succeeds. And this center will help them along the path of success in homeownership.”
Participation in this novel program is open to all citizens at no charge.
Gilstrap praised Kimberly Walker, the director of the center, for her vision for this center.
“Through her work with the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, she has served as a homeownership counselor, secured housing grants and assisted the City with its lease-purchase program for first-time homebuyers,” Gilstrap said. “In sync with the Danville spirit that exists today — a spirit that is captured by our credo “Reimagine That” — Kimberly dreamed of a place that would serve as a one-stop shop for housing education.”
Constance Henderson, chair of the board of commissioners for the housing authority, told those attending Wednesday’s ceremony that everyone dreams of homeownership.
“This building will help the residents of our city to do just that,” Henderson said.
The housing authority took possession of the building a year ago and then secured a $60,000 grant from the Virginia Housing Development Authority. Building renovations began in July and the first class was offered in December.
The DRHA homeownership program’s office was previously located on Garfield Street. The Franklin Street building once headquartered the Local No. 314 Tobacco Workers International Union.
The ceremony also included remarks from Monica Jefferson of the Virginia Housing Development Authority and Laurie Moran, president of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce. Dan River High School seniors Breniyah Henderson and Ayonna Hollowell performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Stephanie Motley sang “I Hope You Dance.”
George Washington High School Symphony Orchestra students performed during tours of the center.