The historic Charleston house with sky-blue siding and white trim at 89 Nassau St. has stood abandoned for two decades.
But these days, a ladder perched in front, a Dumpster on site and work crews canvassing the property are all evidence of its renewed purpose, thanks to a recent purchase by the Star Gospel Mission.
The mission plans to use the home as the “next step” in transitional housing for formerly homeless men, board chairman Jim Buxton said.
“If you go from being formerly homeless or coming out of prison and you pick up a job, you’re not going to be working somewhere for two weeks and suddenly be ready to purchase a home and stand on your own,” Buxton said. “That’s the point of 89 Nassau, to provide a little bit softer landing.”
Buxton said the mission hired Palmetto Craftsman to perform a fair amount of renovation on the property.
Crews with Scofano Corp. were at the home Thursday, performing woodwork on boards missing from the home’s siding, interior trim, staircase and floors.
The mission bought the home for $70,000, executive director William Christian said, and two weeks ago acquired all of the necessary permits to proceed with the project.
The home includes four units, each about 210 square feet. Christian said the units are small, but are larger than what residents at the Meeting Street property are currently accustomed to.
The men who will stay at the fully furnished 89 Nassau home will be responsible for $500 a month rent, plus utilities.
Men who currently stay at Star Gospel pay $90 of a $195 fee each week. Charitable donations pay the rest, Buxton said.
The home, which Christian said has been registered with the city as low-income housing, will serve the residents in multiple ways, including giving them the privacy that comes with having an apartment. More importantly, he said, they will establish credit to help with home ownership in the future.
Only current Star Gospel residents who have a proven track record are eligible to rent the property, Christian said.
“It’s primary that we do not accept sex offenders, so that wouldn’t be allowed in the house,” Christian said. “Also, eligible men have proven to be drug- and alcohol-free. They have to be clean and sober all the time because that really is the key to getting to that next level in their life.”
Christian said he is compiling a list of possible residents, and he plans to house veterans first.
“Veterans are probably the neediest of the homeless population currently,” Christian said.
The project is reminiscent of the mission’s past, Buxton said, in the sense that it once served the community through several properties, including a beach cottage and summer camp on Sullivan’s Island that was destroyed in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo hit.
Buxton said he hopes the Nassau project will lead to further expansion. The mission recently purchased a second home on Nassau Street, which Buxton said will one day serve a similar purpose.
David President, who lives next door to the Nassau property, said he has no reservations regarding the mission’s plans for the space.
President said his aunt once owned the home in the 1970s, and a number of tenants followed before it was left abandoned more than 20 years ago.
“The structure is sound, so why let it go to waste? If you’ve got people who care, who are willing to adhere to society, but have just fallen on troubled times, then (the mission) should use that house to give them a helping hand,” President said. “Everyone at some point in their life could use a helping hand.”
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.
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