Keeping History Alive Through Housing

In the late 1800s, the historic Norwich neighborhood was a thriving industrial community with many foundries and factories. Yet in 1893, floods, fires, and even a tornado devastated the area and destroyed most of the existing buildings. The neighborhood persisted and rebuilt, with one of the first new homes being built in 1895—the home on Penn Street pictured here. 

Three years ago, the house was home to five people, spanning three generations; a grandmother, her children, and grandchildren. Due to the age of the home, it needed extensive work done. It was covered in lead paint and contained multiple home hazards. There was water intrusion from a leaking roof, causing the boards and windows to rot out. The ceiling bulged with water damage and cracked caulk covered lines on the ceiling. Blankets covered the windows to keep the heat in the home. There were no smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. The family could not fix all of these issues on their own, so they reached out to multiple organizations for assistance. 

 After a holistic home assessment and work plan creation, Lead Safe Roanoke and Renovation Alliance worked collaboratively to address the needs of the home. Renovation Alliance worked to reduce the moisture and sources of mold in the home by replacing the roof. Lead Safe Roanoke reduced lead hazards by painting the home and treating the soil. The windows were replaced which not only reduced the lead paint hazards but also improved the energy efficiency of the home. Before both rehab partners left, they equipped the home with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure the family remained safe.  

Through working in the home together, Renovation Alliance and Lead Safe realized they were able to combine resources and maximize their dollars spent, allowing them to get the home the help it needed. Now the family is able to stay in their home for generations to come. 

The Norwich Neighborhood Plan states that residents pride themselves in their long and continuous ties to the neighborhood, and one such family has resided there for three generations. The core of the existing historic houses remains intact, depicting a strong image of its earlier industrial heritage. Healthy Homes Roanoke hopes to keep these residents’ vision alive, and help these families remain in their cherished homes and neighborhood.

“I would like to thank you for all the help that was given to me. The house is really old and I grew up here. A lot of the repairs that were needed I wasn’t able to afford. I’m really thankful for all the service that I was able to get. Thank you for doing a great job to make sure all the work was done correctly.”


More Than Just Rehab

Mary fumbled through her papers until she found the card for Brad, the code inspector for her area.  She prided herself on not getting rid of important papers. She had met him previously through another project related to her home. She called him and left a message that said she was having issues with her heat. 

The next day, Brad came over and shared the business card and information for Healthy Homes Roanoke. Healthy Homes and Mary connected the next day and within a couple of days, Mary’s heating issued had been assessed and a plan been developed to address her concern. Mary was connected to valuable resources to help with other needs as well through Healthy Homes Roanoke such as assistance with food, insurance, and financial counseling. Mary believes the best part of working with Healthy Homes and one of its partner agencies, Renovation Alliance, is finding people that want to help you. She can’t wait to recommend Healthy Homes Roanoke to her friends and family.