By Cheryl Parquet, Director of Community Relations at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Living in Carrboro for more than 25 years now, Sarah Scott has seen a lot of things change. But no change in her community has been as impactful for her family as her experience with Community Home Trust.
“Before they took over, our needs weren’t really getting met,” Sarah said of her apartment’s new management company. “We would complain about something and it would go forever without their notice. Now everything is getting done here.”
COLLABORATING TO CREATE HEALTHIER LIVING CONDITIONS AND FUTURES
Community Home Trust (Home Trust) is a non-profit that helps strengthen communities by creating long-lasting affordable housing opportunities all over North Carolina. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is partnering with Home Trust to expand funding for that effort at Sarah’s 58-unit Carrboro apartment community, The Landings at Winmore. This three-year, $350,000 investment from Blue Cross NC is helping transform The Landings into a healthier, safer, and more sustainable home for residents— 80 percent of whom are among the state’s most vulnerable populations.
MAJOR CHANGES IN THE COMMUNITY
The wide-ranging renovations throughout the property are meant to take care of previously deferred maintenance and to make The Landings a welcoming, affordable housing option for Orange County residents in the long-term.
The work being done focuses on improving air quality, increasing safety and lowering utility costs for residents. Some examples include:
- Replacing all carpet with vinyl plank flooring
- Cleaning all HVAC ducts and fixing or replacing sub-par units
- Updating the fire suppression system
- Installing additional interior and exterior lighting
- Putting in a camera system throughout the property
- Replacing all existing interior and exterior lighting fixtures with LED lights
- Ensuring building insulation is sufficient
All of these projects directly address drivers of health in the state – economic, social, educational and other factors that play a significant role in the health and wellbeing of North Carolinians.
THAT’S WHAT GOOD NEIGHBORS DO
Sarah retired two years ago to care for her 54-year-old younger sister, who was born with Down Syndrome and is currently suffering from heart failure brought on by two leaking valves. Until recently, Sarah feared she and her sister would have to move. Doctors explained that climbing stairs to get to her bedroom was putting excessive stress on Sarah’s wheelchair-bound sister’s heart. Once she shared this with Home Trust, they worked quickly to find a collaborative solution so the two could stay in their home.
“My doctors told me I was stressed out and I needed to stop worrying so much, everything would work itself out. And it did. It really did,” Sarah said. “All I had to do was just talk to them and let them know what I needed. They didn’t want me to move – and they went out of their way to offer some things that would make it more comfortable for [my sister] here in the home, and for me as well.”
“Home Trust did approve for me to have a stairlift put in, and I’m so grateful for them for that. They have accommodated me in so many ways with her,” Sarah reflected.
Home Trust even created a reserved parking spot for Sarah directly in front of her apartment to help make the frequent emergency room trips for her sister’s heart condition easier to manage.
COMING TOGETHER FOR THE COMMUNITY
“They are really trying to improve the place,” Sarah stated, “And they’re doing all they can to, you know, make us comfortable in our homes.”
Of course, the changes Home Trust is making at The Landings isn’t just improving the property, it’s also bringing residents together.
Home Trust sends out letters inviting residents to meetings where they can discuss issues within the community and make suggestions. This collaborative environment allows residents to feel respected, valued and heard. It also provides an opportunity for them to get involved in their community and get to know their neighbors.
“It really makes you feel like you’re somebody…and you’re not being looked down at,” Sarah stated. “It really makes us feel proud to be here and who we are, you know? Because they really treat us like we’re special… I love living here. And I love Home Trust because they work with us. They really work with us.”
The partnership between Blue Cross NC and Home Trust is providing residents at The Landings with stable housing, a key driver of long-term health. Through this shared vision, Sarah, her sister, and the dozens of other families that call The Landings home can continue to do so, comfortably and safely, for many more years to come.