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  • Writer's pictureClarice MacGarvey

Getting it Done: Ava Wise and New Road Community Legacy Project

Photo via ES Post

It is not "new" news that there is a housing shortage on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, or that it is acute. Data presented at a recent housing forum in Eastville hosted by Congresswoman Elaine Luria revealed a total shortage of 1,000 homes for the shore's two counties, Northampton and Accomack. Here in Exmore, Ava Wise, Executive Director of the New Road Community Development Group is working to ease that shortage by adding more housing units to our community and ensuring they are high quality and affordable. With Phase I of Ava's three-phase Legacy Project nearing completing, six attractive new homes will soon be welcoming their new owners! The second phase of the Legacy Project calls for eight duplexes and a 3-story multi-use building with commercial use on the lower level and residences above.

Ava, an activist who has been deeply engaged in community, economic and sustainable development for three decades, has played a role in the New Road Community Group since its founding by her mother, the late Ruth Wise. Now at the helm, Ava is following up on her mother's vision and taking an innovative approach to fulfilling the organization's long-held mission: to provide decent, affordable housing for citizens of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

In getting it done, collaborative efforts and partnerships with agencies at all levels of government helped move the project forward, notably the teams at Virginia Housing and Community Development, USDA Rural Development, Northampton County, the Town of Exmore and others. On April 18 of this year, Congresswoman Luria presented Ava with a check for $500,000 in Federal funding to support the project.

As a side note: in 2021, the USDA invested $1.1 billion to support housing. Another side note: there is sometimes a lack of understanding about the terms Affordable Housing and Workforce Housing. Affordable Housing refers to housing that is affordable based on the income of the people who live there (own or rent) with monthly payments not to exceed 30% of the total gross household earnings. Workforce Housing (owned or rented) refers to housing where at least one member of the household is employed when taking occupancy.

The contractor for the Legacy Project is RMT Construction; subcontractors and tradesmen interested in working on the project should contact Robert Skipper at 804-464-2673 and may visit for more information.

And stay tuned here for updates and plans for Phase III.

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