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Historic Charleston Foundation preserves community while curbing displacement

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Since the 1960s, the Historic Charleston Foundation has become a national model for historic preservation.

Photo provided by the Historic Charleston Foundation

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Historic preservation for a better future — that’s the goal of the Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF), a preservation advocacy organization that helps guide and educate homeowners with the goal of preserving historic properties and curbing displacement.

History of the organization:

The ground-breaking program was founded by Francis Edmunds, an innovator and champion of historic preservation in Charleston, a new idea during the twentieth century.

Edmunds and others established the Revolving Fund in the late ‘50s with the purchasing and selling of historic homes with protective restrictions. Those properties became and continue to become part of the Easement and Covenant Program, which protects nearly 400 properties around Charleston.

Did you see the red 75th flags flying downtown earlier this year? Nearly every private property with one of those flags is either an easement or covenant property with historic protections.

Present day:

As the program has grown, it has continued to evolve and adapt to economic and financial changes in the Lowcountry. The Revolving Fund became an overarching umbrella for two main initiatives: the Edmunds Endangered Property Fund (that continues the original work with covenant properties) and the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative to help achieve the same goals with a different strategy.

Preservation funds are increasingly hard to come by, leading to the displacement of some of Charleston’s generational homeowners. The cost of maintenance for older homes, particularly in traditionally underserved communities, can limit the homeowner’s ability to remain in their home.

The Common Cause Loan Fund was established by HCF and the Charleston Redevelopment Corporation (CRC) and funded by The 1772 Foundation in response to the growing problem. The program is seeking additional funding and donations from community members like you to complete projects that assist those in need with the resources to stay in their homes.

How the program helps:

Qualifying homeowners receive financial assistance to repair or maintain the exterior of their homes. The Common Cause Loan Fund provides financial support, technical expertise, and partnership engagement with the mission of preserving the communities that contribute to the cultural fabric of the Greater Charleston Area.

This project is funded by a grant from The 1772 Foundation with support from HCF, CRC, and generous community partners and carried out in partnership with the City of Charleston. Loan candidates must meet certain criteria to qualify for the loan, including:

  • A clear title on a historic house (defined as 50+ years old)
  • Residing in the house for seven years after the work is completed

Currently, the program has identified a handful of properties in downtown Charleston, with work starting as soon as the fall of 2022. Once these five projects are complete, the loan fund will have used a majority of its seed funds.

The Historic Charleston Foundation is continuing to seek additional funding and donations to complete projects to support members of our community. To learn more about the program or donate, visit the HCF website.*

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