Members of ECSMC created Chestnut Housing Corporation (CHC) with a mission to provide affordable rental housing in the church neighborhood. The US Census Bureau reports that Lancaster County has the second lowest vacancy rate for housing in the US. This means that there is a high demand for housing, which pushes up rental prices. Many more affordable rental units are needed, especially for low-income families. CHC was created to respond to this need.
In 2010, CHC successfully financed and acquired a single family house at 639 East Chestnut Street in Lancaster. After renovations, primarily using church volunteers, we began renting the house for significantly less than market rate to low-income families who have experienced homelessness. During this process, we learned that our tenants often need support and guidance to be responsible tenants, so we enlisted the support of Tabor Community Services to help our tenants develop the skills and habits they need to be dependable renters and good stewards of their housing. The Gonzalez family has benefited from CHC’s community partnerships, as highlighted in this August 2016 article in The Mennonite.
CHC fully paid off this first house through generous individual donations and excess church operating funds. In 2014, we purchased a two-unit property at 543 E. Chestnut Street in Lancaster with a down-payment provided by church members. Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership (LHOP) offered a long-term, low-interest loan for the remaining purchase price. CHC anticipates the loan repayment to come from individual donations by church members and others, as well as grant funds.
Our latest project — renovating an apartment building at 547/549 East Chestnut Street that includes a former bar. When finished, 4 more families in need will have a home. Your help is needed! Join us in bringing hope and positive change to our community.
• Donate materials/appliances
• Volunteer to help with renovations
• Give financially (see address below)
Chestnut Housing Corporation
A Nonprofit Ministry of East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church
432-434 East Chestnut Street, Lancaster, PA 17602