Meet New Board Member Doug Greenwell
Doug Greenwell joined our board in early 2023. Get to know Doug and his vision for our organization:
My background with Rebuild Upstate
About 4 years ago while looking for a project for my community group at church, I found the Rebuild Upstate website. Rebuild Upstate helped our group organize a ramp construction for a retired couple in Taylors. It was a very rewarding experience for our group of 15 volunteers and the homeowners were very appreciative.
Seeing firsthand the impact that our small unskilled group could have on a homeowner, I was hooked. With the age and mobility of the homeowners, they could not safely enter and exit their home without assistance. This ramp project would afford them the independence to stay safely where they wanted to be, in their home.
I continued to volunteer on several other projects and engaged my men’s group from church. The Rebuild Upstate volunteer coordinator at that time contacted about joining the Advisory Council. This afforded me the opportunity to learn more about the organization and its extensive impact on our local community.
Being an engineer with some practical hands-on skills it was easy for me to learn the Rebuild construction work. I decided to volunteer as a team leader for Saturday builds with other teams. I also worked with Rebuild to organize some “Just Serve” volunteer days with my church (Grace Downtown).
A couple of years ago, I pursued the idea of an ongoing weekly commitment and joined the Handyman Club. It has been very rewarding to see how the Handyman groups, after one week, can go into a home and “fix” a major issue for a homeowner who needs some help. In many cases it is the difference between the homeowner’s ability to stay at home or seek some other type of assisted housing. This is key!
Part of a Vision – GVL2040
As a board member I would like to see Rebuild become an even larger part of managing the homelessness and gentrification issues of Greenville. This will require a multi-faceted approach which is spelled out in the GVL2040 Comprehensive Plan.
- Building of affordable housing strategically located in these at risk communities (Nicholtown, Pleasant Valley, Judson…). GVL2040 Comprehensive Plan refers to them as Nodes of development.
- Building new affordable homes in existing communities – organizations like Homes of Hope, Habitat for Humanity…
- Transitional housing and support services where residents are allowed to recover from difficult situations and return to society with wellness and the ability to contribute again. Another program that focuses on this segment is Front Porch housing (a mission of Grace Church).
- Repair, update and fix existing homes to allow homeowners stay safely in their homes. Of course this is where Rebuild Upstate is a valuable contributor and fits into this complex picture.
In addition long range community planning needs to support the infrastructure needed to integrate these communities into thriving and contributing to the city at large.
- Public transportation systems that allow these residents access to other parts of the city where they can find meaningful and good paying employment. The transportation is aligned to meet the needs of these Nodes of development.
- Local schools and organizations with training, skills, and job placements to continue to raise the level of education and earning potential in many of these low income areas.
- And churches willing to engage and minister to the people of these communities. Not only on the physical and spiritual needs of the community, but churches willing to commit to the financial and resource needs of their communities.
All of this infrastructure planning centers around these housing Nodes of Development. Rebuild Upstate Moving Forward
In 2023, Rebuild Upstate has the opportunity to not only continue its very good work for the community (over 100 homes repaired annually), but to become a more integral part of Greenville’s strategic plan for responsible growth of our community.
One of the focal points of the GVL 2040 Comprehensive Plan is affordable housing opportunities. Reference page #52 of this plan passed by city council in February 2021.
- Greenville City projects the need of an additional 20,000 new housing units by 2040.
- The GVL2040 objective is to make 10% (2000 units) affordable housing. This is on average an additional 100 units per year.
- This would require direct public subsidy of approximately $2.5 million per year over the next 20 years. See Page #52 of report for details. The report goes on to say that for each additional 1% increment in affordable housing it is estimated to cost the city an additional $5 million per year over 20 years. This is due to the limited supply of land and infrastructure for new housing.
What if Rebuild Upstate commits to providing this additional 1% low income housing? That is 10 homes that are brought up to the standards in these new residential Nodes.
A typical project could be more extensive than normal for Rebuild Upstate – structural repair, new bathroom, exterior doors, roof, siding….
Rebuild Upstate has the know-how, tools, staffing, and expertise to fill this gap. I am not proposing Rebuild Upstate get into the business of building new homes, but by rebuilding homes that may be abandoned. That is our core business now!
Rebuild Upstate continues its mission to make homes safe, healthy, and livable. What happens if we don’t “fix” these existing homes? Eventually the homeowners are going to have to go somewhere – move in with relatives, assisted living, government housing,
or homelessness? In any event by keeping families in their existing homes, we are essentially providing one more affordable housing unit.
As part of the GVL2040 plan, we focus on improving housing in these target Node areas. Rebuild Upstate would coordinate with the city and community leaders to identify which homes we can rebuild to make safer or viable part of community.
We align with the mission of GVL2040 “Traditional neighborhoods are protected and maintained”. For the city’s input in this part of our mission, we would expect funding and communication of the critical part we are taking in the plan.
Let’s take this opportunity to partner with the city and take a visible and active role in building these Community Nodes. This should not take away from our mission, but be another avenue for Rebuild Upstate to invest in the life of our community.
A mechanical engineer by training I have worked for Michelin for 40 years in various engineering management roles. Retired two years ago and now have more time to give back to the community.
Besides volunteering for Rebuild Upstate, I am also active in my Church – Grace Pelham. I have led various men’s groups and enjoy always learning and developing relationships with other Christian men.
At retirement I bought a small recreational farm in Laurens county. It has keep me very busy these last two years, clearing timbers, preparing fields, and wildlife planning. I enjoy working on the farm, gardening, and hunting on the land (deer, turkey, dove). Also, when I have time I enjoy the solitude of fly fishing in the North Carolina mountains.
Last but not least are my two sons, their wives, and six grandchildren (3 boys, 3 girls). My wife and I support the grands in football, basketball, soccer, piano, dance, gymnastics……with cheering and chauffeur services.
Thank you for your volunteerism, Doug! Let’s get to work!