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A Smart Way to Home Rebuild

June 4, 2018
Chris Woodley,

A run-down house in a Northeast Columbia neighborhood will receive a complete, modern renovation thanks to a collaboration between the University of South Carolina’s SmartHOME Center for Economic Excellence and several community organizations.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held Wednesday, May 30 at 3613 Judy St. in the New Castle-Trenholm Acres neighborhood. The renovation is part of the SC UpLift Community Outreach Legacy Home Renovation Project for Older Adults. In addition to SC UpLift and SmartHOME, the collaborative effort includes the Richland County Community Development and Palmetto Health.

College of Social Work Assistant Professor Shaun Owens is the director for strategy and innovation for USC SmartHOME. The center is focused on helping older adults remain healthy and independent by developing technologies that enable individuals to remain at home with adequate support and advance the quality of life for South Carolinians.

“We are here to celebrate a milestone for SC UpLift’s groundbreaking of their legacy home,” said Owens. “It is a smart but affordable home to enable older adults to age in place. The partnership demonstrates great vision; not simply because of this housing model, but because no individual sector has the scientific knowledge and technical expertise to develop this type of project.”

Owens research was vital in helping design features and technologies for the smart home.      

“My personal research focuses on the development and evaluations of solutions to help older adults age in place,” said Owens. “Being a part of this partnership allowed me to translate my research into a real-world project that can make a difference for a Richland County resident. It is our hope that this home will be the first of many developed in Richland County and others can share in our enthusiasm of the potential impact.”

SC UpLift Legacy Home for Older Adults will be a universal designed two-bedroom, one-bath home designated as an affordable senior rental property. The home will feature multiple technologies enabling an older adult to age in place with features such as, energy efficiency appliances, anti-fatigue flooring to prevent fall-related injuries, a telehealth system, and a security and automation system. In addition, the home will be wired to incorporate future technologies. The project will begin in June, and the property will be available for occupancy by October.

“This marks a historic collaborative effort,” said Kevin Wimberly, Founder and CEO of SC UpLift. “Providing the smart home features, based on research from Dr. Owens, helps us to determine the necessary features for residents to stay here and not have to move to other sources of housing.”

SC UpLift Community Outreach is a federally exempt community development corporation providing affordable housing for low to moderate income individuals and families. Since 2009, SC UpLift has developed and provided various affordable housing projects in the Midlands region of South Carolina by assisting nearly 60 seniors with home repairs to maintain the health and safety of their homes.  

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