New homes coming to South Memphis neighborhood in 2018

The first new homes in a generation are coming to the Castalia Heights neighborhood of South Memphis. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis plans to build 32 homes in a subdivision to be called Cedar Heights. Infrastructure improvements will take place early 2018 with home construction beginning by early summer. 

Cedar Heights includes one- and two-story homes averaging 1,100 to 1,200 square feet in a lot at the corner of Carter Avenue and Hays Road. 

“To keep the cost of the homes minimal for families, typically Habitat utilizes donated land and often times it is infill development,” said Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis President and CEO Dwayne Spencer.

The plot for Cedar Heights was donated to Habitat more than a decade ago. Previously there had been blighted apartments on the land.

The revitalization work will include completing 15 beautification projects on local owner-occupied properties. Habitat partners with Green Memphis and City Beautiful on neighborhood cleanups.

“Projects will include yard work or doing things like cutting down bushes in front of homes to create a clear line of sight or putting up motion sensors in backyards,” said Spencer, who cited design principles backed by CPTED, or crime prevention through environmental design. “Some could involve fencing or simply scraping old paint off of a home and freshening it up.”

When funding allows, major improvements like a new roof or HVAC units can be available for seniors through Habitat’s Aging in Place home modification and repair program.

“We’re just trying to have a holistic impact on a community, on a street, on a neighborhood,” said Spencer.

To help kick off the fundraising efforts, last week the Tennessee Housing Development Agency awarded Habitat a $500,000 Challenge Grant for 2018. The challenge to the community is to raise the first $2.5 million for the campaign by June 28, which will unlock matching funds from THDA. Memphis Habitat’s total fundraising goal for next year’s activity is $5.9 million.

“Our hope and desire is that the community responds and wants to support our efforts to build as many homes as possible,” said Spencer.

Memphis Habitat’s plans for its 35th anniversary next year include creating affordable mortgage opportunities for more than 20 first-time homebuyer families at Cedar Heights, serving 200 Shelby County seniors through Habitat’s Aging in Place program, building 10 homes each in Nicaragua and Cambodia through its tithe program, and hosting a forum on April 11 at the National Civil Rights Museum to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Act.

Also in the spring, Habitat will relaunch its Women Build program, which designed to raise awareness and encourage women to seek careers in construction.

Habitat’s annual Tool Box Bash fundraising event takes place January 19 at Crosstown Concourse and its Bluff City 10K is May 12 at Overton Square.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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