Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

October 1, 2012

McDowell families have new place to call home

WAR — With three new homes completed in the War area, officials with a McDowell County housing agency are now looking into even more new construction.

Marcia Richards, loan processor with Safe Housing and Economic Development, Inc. (SHED), said the organization will hold a ribbon-cutting and open house ceremony at the three recently completed homes on Curtis Lane in War at 1 p.m. on Thursday.

“These are brand new homes, and there are three of them,” Richards said. “All of the homes have three bedrooms. I’ve toured the homes myself and they are very nice. We wanted to provide housing in the community for low-income families and first-time homebuyers. Two of the families are first-time homebuyers. The purchases have not been finalized, but we do have three families who are in the process of purchasing these homes.”

Richards said it has been more than a decade since new homes were built in the War area.

“We have had homes renovated and rebuilt, but the first actual new home construction in the War area has been about 12 years,” she said. “In the 14 years since I’ve worked there, the only thing that has been put up there are single-wide and double-wide mobile homes. Nothing like this has been put up there since I’ve been working here.”

Gary McLamb, project manager at SHED, said the homes are going to three families who qualify through U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) grant programs.

“There is no down payment,” McLamb said. “If they have qualified through HUD or USDA they can purchase the home. These organizations help them with the financing. We do background checks on the people buying the home and then send in our paperwork. The government programs are the ones who ultimately approve if they get the homes. Instead of someone coming with a big down payment, this allows low-income families to purchase a home of their own. The homes are 1,250 square feet each.”

In addition to constructing the homes, McLamb said contractors also constructed driveways for the homes.

“The material is provided through the state,” McLamb said. “We find a contractor, put bids out to see who will be the best building contractor. Once we get those proposals in we look not just for the lowest bid but at their reputation. We put in the actual driveways. The road was already there, but we added the driveways there in War.”

 With the homes in the War area completed, McLamb said the organization is now working on constructing homes in the Starland Heights area of Welch.

“We have three more homes we are working on in Starland Heights,” he said. “These three structures will also be three-bedroom and two-bathroom homes. We will be building a new road in that area and a new set of apartments. The same contractor who built the homes in War is building the ones in Starland Heights. He has a great reputation and is a competent builder. It’s been a while since new homes have been built in Starland Heights. There were two opened last week through the Council of Southern Mountains in that same area.”

McLamb said McDowell County residents are very eager for construction of new homes.

“The three homes in War sold before we started construction, and the three homes we are planning in Starland Heights already have applicants,” he said. “People are very excited about these homes. These people right now are living in Starland Heights and other places. They are jumping up and down to get their own homes. One of the individuals who bought one of the homes in War was crying he was so excited when we told him it was complete. It makes me feel proud to see we are doing something for the community, that someone feels this strongly about getting their own home.”

According to McLamb, providing the new homes impacts more than just the families moving in.

“To us, anything that helps bring more people into the county helps the county prosper down the road,” he said. “These people not only contribute property taxes but buy goods in the county. Anything that helps one person in the county helps everyone in the county. It all works out to our benefit.”

— Contact Kate Coil at

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