Carney Place, a Habitat for Humanity community in West Asheville, was built from early 2011 through late 2013. The 22 Habitat houses line all of Trellis Court and a portion of Brotherton Avenue. The name Carney Place was chosen by one of Habitat’s donors in honor of his family home in Alabama.
A Habitat neighborhood is unique in many ways, but first in that it is built by a mix of skilled and patient construction supervisors leading community volunteers and future homeowners. All the future homeowners in the neighborhood helped with the building, and in the process got to know each other and the volunteers. Each home was built with the spirit of generosity and community. Habitat intentionally designs visually appealing neighborhoods with affordable and quality construction. The craftsman style homes are all extremely energy efficient and Green Built NC certified.
Each homeowner has the experience of their home’s Wall Raising. This is a mix of ritual, celebration, and community gathering. Habitat staff, volunteers, the future homeowner and their family and friends, and the house sponsor all gather together. After a brief ceremony on “home and Habitat”, attendees raise the first wall of the house together and write blessings and wishes on the studs. Every time I walk into my home I can feel the blessings and generosity built into it.
While the building of a Habitat home is unique, each homeowner signs on to a 30-year mortgage, repaying the principal of the home in its entirety, just like any other homeowner. And of course, we all pay property taxes!
Each Habitat homeowner went through an application process. The process is inclusive and in this 22-home neighborhood we have different languages, family sizes, and work experiences. When Germany won the World Cup, I knew because my German neighbor had the German flag hanging on her porch. I had a language exchange with my neighbor who wanted to learn English, and I wanted to learn Spanish. The children are so present in this neighborhood. The basketball hoop has moved to different houses. With the slight downhill slope of the street, ending with a cul-de-sac, all kinds of kid-powered wheeled vehicles ride down the street.
Just as each homeowner is unique, how they impact the community is distinctive. We are social workers, educators, fork-lift operators, health care workers and auto mechanics. Each homeowner is involved with organizations such as The Center for Diversity, youth sports, and churches. We volunteer with organizations and several boys are Cub Scouts. The children of one homeowner in particular are all college-focused: a UNCA graduate, and UNC Chapel Hill and Berea College students. We are a growing neighborhood in many ways.
We continue to hope for more community gatherings. Just like so many neighborhoods, everyone is involved with their work and personal activities. Still, we have a growing interest in a community garden. Carney Place has communal property and with some terracing and preparing, we have a vision of a community garden that will produce fresh vegetables and an opportunity for community gatherings. Last year a neighbor organized her son’s Cub Scout troop to do a garden project for Earth Day. We planted several apple trees, cut back some unwanted growth, and enjoyed time together in our neighborhood.