Last year, Tried by Fire, Inc. was blessed to receive the donation of a 79 year old house in the Duffyfield community of New Bern at 524 Roundtree Street. We envision renovating this property for use as a transitional home for post-incarcerated women to be known as “My Sister’s House.” The objectives of this effort are to (1) reduce recidivism, (2) reduce homelessness among women as they assimilate back into the community, (3) ensure public safety by assisting women to find healthy, positive and productive options during their re-entry period, and (4) to partner with existing programs and services for appropriate referrals of the women coming to My Sister’s House. A maximum of six residents would remain in residence for up to 90 days, although program referrals and support will be available to non-residents within this particular population; full-time home supervision would be on-site.
For the last 10 months, Tried By Fire, Inc. has been working with the City of New Bern to secure the appropriate zoning change for the property as well as a parking requirement variance and other necessary approvals. We have been pleased to find the City very supportive of this project. They understand that in addition to returning a current blighted property to an attractive residence in their effort to improve Duffyfield, we are also addressing a need to support a specific group of vulnerable individuals within our community. From City officials, to the Board of Aldermen, to the recently created Redevelopment Committee, we have received encouragement and promises of continued support. We are have also created partnerships with Habitat for Humanity of Craven County’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program and the Craven-Pamlico Recovery Council and appreciate their guidance as we work on the house renovations and the creation of our referral program of services for residents.
Extensive renovations will be necessary and will proceed under the guidance of an experienced architect and the Critical Repairs staff of Habitat for Humanity of Craven County. We must start with asbestos and lead testing to determine the full scope of work needed. The existing metal roof will need to be replaced with a shingle roof, and all of the electrical wiring and plumbing in the house will need to be updated. Although the main structure is two stories and appears to have “good bones”, a single story addition on the back of the house may have to be demolished and rebuilt if it is determined to be unsound. This would allow construction of a more efficient and appropriate kitchen and downstairs bathroom for multiple residents. Because of years of neglect, there is significant wood rot evident and interior walls and other parts of the house have been damaged by vandals. The decades old “balloon framing” construction has been noted which does not meet current fire code regulations. To whatever extent possible, we plan to retain the existing structural and design components of the original house, including the stair banister, French doors, and moldings. All the windows will need to be replaced with energy efficient double-pane options. Finally, we will create two parking spaces as required by the City and complete a landscaping plan for the property.