Building Shalom is a community development organization in Rocky Mount that focuses on strengthening neighborhoods. Their mission statement is “building blighted neighborhoods into beautiful and beloved neighborhoods.”
The organization started under Peacemakers’ Housing Initiative in 2016 and fully launched in 2022. Building Shalom aims to transform the community by transforming one home, one neighbor, and one neighborhood at a time.
They help equip people trying to become homeowners while also restoring abandoned and blighted homes into ones that are energy efficient, up to code, affordable, and beautiful.
Since 2022, Building Shalom has restored six homes, and they plan to finish two more this year. Of those six homes, four are owned and two are rentals.
Their focus is currently a neighborhood in a one-mile by one-mile area of South Rocky Mount, but they hope to expand into other neighborhoods in the future. Families and individuals looking to become homeowners begin their 12-month journey with Building Shalom by attending an orientation, then they go through a loan pre-approval process and various steps to see how long they may need to become qualified.
Participants in the program then begin working to renovate a home. The families have input in the home's design, while also receiving guidance from the organization to help make financially responsible decisions along the way.
Members of the homeownership program share some of the most intimate details about their lives, as they have to share their budgets, goals, and more; it provides a clear avenue to know the members of the group.
Executive Director Lemanuel Williams shared that the most common comment he receives from participants is openness in talking about any part of their lives.
Williams says the most powerful aspect of his role is seeing people for whom homeownership seems impossible becoming a reality.
Building Shalom uses Building Coaches to help people through the program. Building Coaches function as mentors, helping the program members create a budget, set life goals, improve time management skills, and more.
Williams says that one of their greatest needs is more Building Coaches. It is a three-hour monthly commitment for a year. No building skills are required; anyone can help mentor someone in the program looking to become a homeowner.
In addition to the housing program, Building Shalom will hold a Christmas Tree Lighting on December 15 at Tip Top Park. They will also have several workdays to allow volunteers to help prepare the park for the event.
This is one example of how Building Shalom hopes to improve the entirety of the community through a holistic approach–it isn’t only about helping individuals become homeowners.
The Rocky Mount Telegram recently reported that Building Shalom received a $275,000 state grant to renovate more homes and hire additional staff.
Later tonight, October 26, Building Shalom will host an interest meeting at Factory 633 for those eager to learn more. In addition to hearing testimonies about what the organization has done, they will unveil more information about their newest initiative, Project 29:7, which Williams says anyone will be able to be a part of.
Project 29:7 hopes to improve the welfare of the city by seeking peace and prosperity within the city.
You can also sign up online for their next Homeownership Orientation, on October 28 or November 18.
There is still time to register online to attend Building Shalom’s Interest Meeting later today.