Betty Whitlock Feels Lucky to Have Found 55+ Housing in Blacksburg

Betty fondly remembers the Blacksburg of her youth – a downtown consisting of about 6 stores along Main Street, and beyond that plenty of cornfields. Saturday night’s entertainment was driving downtown with her family to sit on Main Street for a weekly chat with friends and neighbors. “Dad always parked on the right side of the A&P.” Born in 1938, Betty has seen a lifetime of changes in this community where she grew up, went to school, married, raised her children, and had a career.

Her first home in Blacksburg was on "VPI’s campus." Her dad worked for the dairy department and they lived in one of the houses for employees until she was a year old and moved to McDonald Street. Betty’s dad was a fixture in the community--a charter member of the Blacksburg Rescue Squad and the town Santa Claus for many years.

Blacksburg has grown significantly since Betty was young when her playgrounds were the abundant cornfields surrounding the homes of her and her friends. “Home” in Blacksburg has taken many forms over the years, from her first apartment on Progress Street in a house built by her grandfather to a trailer beside her parents’ house with her expanding family, to the home on Merrimack that she built with her husband, and where they lived until 1990.

Throughout her life, Betty has witnessed many changes in the landscape of the town, with the growth of the Virginia Tech campus and student population. Now, as a retiree, having worked 27 years at Virginia Tech and 7 years for the Town of Blacksburg, Betty feels lucky to continue to be a part of the community.

She currently lives in the 55+ Grissom Lane apartments which were built in 2014 by Community Housing Partners, with funding from the NRV HOME Consortium and the Town of Blacksburg. “Everyone who lives here loves the place,” says Betty. “People drive by often to learn about the properties and to ask how they can apply for housing.” Unfortunately, finding accessible and affordable housing options in Town for older adults is challenging, with long waiting lists.

Betty feels blessed. “Blacksburg is a great place to retire. We need more housing for many of us who grew up here and want to age here.”

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