With a goal to “Help Other People Excel” through community partnership and development and a mission to provide home ownership and other services to break the cycle of poverty, HOPE Community Development Corp. has its first home under construction at 1456 North Ash St.
The CDC is led by Dr. Kevass Harding, a Wichita native who is the lead pastor at Dellrose United Methodist Church.
Harding said that having grown up in Wichita’s historically Black neighborhood, he has a personal connection that motivates him to help the community grow and flourish.
He holds a degree in criminal justice and worked as a police officer in Wichita in the 1990s, where he developed a strong interest in community development.
“I made that the focus of my doctorate program,” Harding said. “I specialized in Church Administration and Congregational Growth and Revitalization.”
He has served at Dellrose United Methodist Church since 1998.
“Home ownership is such an important part of breaking the cycle of poverty,” he said.
The initial homes of the HOPE organization will be built on 11 lots that were donated by Evergy to the community. Fidelity Bank is providing the construction loans and Capital Federal Ken-Mar branch is providing financing for buyers.
Harding said the CDC was formed back in 2017, but required some time to get organized. Then, just as they were ready to move ahead, the COVID pandemic hit and everything had to shut down.
“After COVID eased up, it was a struggle to get materials because the supply chains were all impacted. So, we’re just now getting to do what he had hoped to do much sooner,” he said.
Harding said the CDC is holding classes and working to educate community members on how to improve their credit scores and about money management and improving their overall financial condition.
“My goal is to promote neighborhood revitalization from within the neighborhood,” he said. “So often, programs have been aimed at gentrification: moving people out, then renovating or razing houses. But too much of the time, the people who once lived there can’t afford to come back and the character of the neighborhood is forever changed. I want to help improve the neighborhood from within so that the people who live there now benefit.”
Harding said it is his mission to see low and moderate income residents break the cycle of poverty by providing affordable housing and other services including economic empowerment, education, environment development, health and wellness, and resident engagement.
HOPE is partnering with the city of Wichita through its Home 80 program, which provides financial assistance to individuals or organizations to develop housing projects and offers potential first-time buyers help with their down payment.
The maximum price of a home in the program is $105,000. A potential buyer must fill out an application under the Home 80 guidelines. After approval, they meet with HOPE and learn which lots are available and what size and style house will fit that lot.
Once that paperwork is complete and a price is established that meets their income eligibility, their construction gets underway.
The city program pays the down payment and contributes $2,000 for closing costs.
Each home is approved for the city program before the house is built. The initial home on North Ash already has a buyer. It will have 978 square feet upstairs, with two bedrooms and one bathroom. The unfinished basement has room to add a third bedroom, an additional bathroom, and a large recreation or game room.
Future homes in the HOPE project will be built at 1452 N. Hydraulic, 1201 N. Madison, 1202 N. Madison, 1201 N. Spruce. 1201 N. Poplar, 1200 N. Poplar, 2602 E. Mossman, 922 N. Green, and a duplex rental at 2803-05 E. Mossman.
Individuals interested in the program should check the website www.HopeBuildsCommunity.org, email Harding at email@example.com, or phone the HOPE office at 316-684-5182 or Harding’s cell phone at 316-648-9131.
A home at 1111 N. Green is available now. HOPE CDC purchased that house on the market when it became available and plans to either sell it or rehab it as a Section 8 rental property.
Harding said HOPE CDC will purchase other vacant lots as the program unfolds and also offer help to existing homeowners who need to make repairs or renovation of their homes.