In 2011, AARP Foundation — the charitable affiliate of AARP — made a grant of $235,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville to support the construction of Sunrise Park, a community of single-family homes, duplexes and condominiums located in the heart of the city.
The project is part of Habitat for Humanity's new strategy to address the area's affordable housing problem and at the same time create homes where people can age in place.
"There's a need to create intergenerational housing, because we don't necessarily believe in the model of silos where elderly are 'here' and young people are 'here,'" said Dan Rosensweig, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. "We think that this is a better model, an intentional intergenerational community, where, in a daily way, 80-year-olds can interact with 8-year-olds … This is mixed income and it's intergenerational, so we're trying to do something a little bit different, and it's on a bus line, it's walkable to downtown and to the little commercial district, so people can live there without cars if they need to."
Sunrise Park occupies one full city block and when complete will contain up to 66 housing units, including 20 duplex houses, 20 single family homes and a condo building with 15 apartments. Sunrise Park was designed as a community hub to bring together neighborhood residents and people from the larger Belmont-Carlton community. In the center is a large, communal "backyard" space of 50,000 square feet, or roughly one-third of the overall footprint, to promote socializing, play and community activities. Construction at Sunrise Park began in spring 2011, the first homeowners moved in that fall and full build-out will be complete in 2013.
The new homes are replacing 16 aging trailer homes — in fact, the project is the first trailer park redevelopment in the country that does not displace residents. That's because Habitat for Humanity promised the mobile home residents they can stay for the rest of their lives, either as Habitat partner families or in affordable rentals.
Nine families from the mobile homes will take up residence in the new condos, and eight of the nine have family members age 65 and over. Twenty-two Habitat Partner Families, most with children, and some single individuals will occupy the other homes or condos within the revitalized community.