By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — In a neighborhood dotted with abandoned homes due to fires or foreclosure, new hope is rising.
Yesterday, Arlington Community Trabajando in partnership with Charles Hope Companies of North Andover, Lawrence Youth Team and YouthBuild had a groundbreaking ceremony for four housing units at the corner of Trenton and Park streets.
“We’re trying to focus on blighted neighborhoods, where we can make a difference,” said Alan Hope, managing director of Hope Companies. His wife, Debbie was by his side.
Hope said the homes will be 2 1/2 floors with a deck and garage. They will be energy efficient. Part of the lot had been purchased by Arlington Community several years ago and a small parcel next to it was sold to the non-profit agency more recently. Out of the four units, qualifying applicants can purchase two, one to own and one to rent.
“Building these new homes reaffirms our commitment to the community development,” said Ana Luna, executive director of Arlington Community Trabajando.
Patrick Blanchette, the city’s director of economic development, led the program with Mayor William Lantigua, City Council president Frank Moran, Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, State Rep. Marcos Devers, D-Lawrence, June Black, representing Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Wil Carpenter of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce and April Lyskowsky of YouthBuild attending.
“As we stand here, no one feels the pride more than I do,” Lantigua said. “There’s nothing more satisfying than to see young people working to move the city forward.”
The project is the first venture in a partnership between Arlington Community Trabajando and Charles Hope Companies called “HOPE TO ACT.” Participants of YouthBuild and Youth Team will receive job training and placement opportunities for at risk teenagers.
Hope was lauded by speakers for choosing the neighborhoods that need help the most.
Arlington Neighborhood Trabajando was founded in 1996 to revitalize the area known for its crime rate and poverty standards. The agency has helped more than 900 families through home-buyer workshops, foreclosure prevention and financial literacy.
“This is a dream come true ... after 25 years,” Luna said. “This is a true win for the city of Lawrence.”
The Charles Hope Companies has been building and rehabing homes since 1985 and recently completed two affordable housing projects on Vine Street.
Alan Hope, a native of South Africa, moved to the United States in 1975 to get a master’s degree in business administration from Syracuse University. In the late 1970s, he moved to Concord and later to North Andover.
“I like the people here; they have a big heart,” Hope said when asked why he invests in Lawrence. “Other cities tend to be more practical. Here, people are very sensitive to the needs of the city and take it personally.”