The History of Mountain Housing Opportunities
Mountain Housing Opportunities was organized in 1988 by a group of volunteers concerned with the declining housing stock and lack of affordable and decent housing units for low-income people.
A group of nonprofit service agencies, local governments and businesses co-sponsored the February conference, non-profit Housing Development for Low Income People, organized by Pisgah Legal Services that was focused on Western North Carolina.
Keynote speaker Dave Lollis of the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises advises the 150 participants not to “spend too much time in needs assessment and networking” but instead to “go out and build a handrail on Aunt Mary’s front porch.”
Five volunteers who have met since the conference began the volunteer work. On a Saturday in August, they brought ladders, tools, and materials and repaired the roof of an elderly homeowner in Leicester. Later that month, the group incorporated as Mountain Housing Opportunities, Inc.
Founding directors were:
- Helen Cooper of the Council on Aging, craftsman/teacher
- Norman Earle, architect.
- Robbie Sweetser
- Pat Thomson of the NC Division of Community Assistance
- Gray Wilson and Scott Dedman of Pisgah Legal Services.
The corporation’s registered agent was Jim Barrett of Pisgah Legal Services. Before year end, seven volunteer home repairs are completed.
In 1989, MHO hired its first Executive Director, Cindy Visnich Weeks. After serving as Board Chairman, Scott Dedman became Executive Director of MHO in 1993. Dedman was also one of the seven original founders of Mountain Housing Opportunities in 1988.