As many of our long-time supporters are aware, we take great care to build energy efficient homes. These measures ensure utility costs are low and reduce consumption of resources. This year’s Jane Hagedorn Women Build project is no different as we will install spray foam insulation, which seals gaps and prevents air penetration, Energy Star appliances, and an energy recovery ventilation system.
In addition to these features, and with the support of a Climate Action Grant from the City of Iowa City, we are upping our electrification efforts by installing an air-source heat pump HVAC system, and a heat pump water heater. Installing electric appliances instead of appliances that use fossil fuels, also known as electrification, helps reduce a home’s carbon footprint. As renewable sources increasingly provide electricity to our homes in conjunction with utility providers’ efforts to switch to wind and solar power, heating and cooling with electricity reduces carbon emissions. Installing an air source heat pump will allow this Women Build project to be heated with clean electricity, rather than a gas furnace. New advances will allow this heat pump to be effective year-round, including on some of the coldest winter days. The IVHFH staff and board of directors want to thank the City of Iowa City for support of this initiative and investing in efforts to reduce our community’s carbon footprint. Read more about our efforts to build energy efficient homes.
Before IVHFH stepped in, homeowner Steve was considering a life-changing decision. He had been looking to move into low-income housing or to an assisted living facility because his home was not meeting his accessibility needs. More than anything, he wanted to continue living in his home, but he could not afford the modifications and repairs his house needed for him to safely maneuver his wheelchair throughout his home. Safe and accessible housing is a key social determinant of health, so IVHFH was determined to help.
Problem: Steve's roof was covered by shingles that were recalled by the manufacturer, thus creating two significant problems. First, the insurance company refused to provide coverage. Second, the roof leaked, causing damage to the bathroom drywall.
Helping Hands Solution: IVHFH oversaw significant roof repair. After removing the old shingles, it was discovered that the plank decking had large gaps. IVHFH contracted for OSB to be placed on top of the existing planks, and completed the repair with installation of tar paper and new shingles.
Problem: The bathroom was unsafe and inaccessible. The tub had a high step that frequently caused Steve to fall when entering and exiting the shower. Additionally, the vanity was 25 inches from the bathroom wall and did not allow for Steve to get his wheelchair close to the toilet. Finally, the area near the toilet was unsafe.
Helping Hands Solution: To make the shower accessible, IVHFH arranged installation of a no-step shower with a hand-spout, removable bench, and two grab bars. Habitat staff removed the vanity and had a wall-mounted sink installed to make the toilet accessible in a wheelchair. To make the area near the toilet safe, IVHFH installed a new toilet with grab bars on both sides.
Problem: The hallway and bathroom doorway were only 30 inches wide. Because Steve's wheelchair is 28 inches wide, he was forced to park his wheelchair in the hallway and walk to the bathroom. Although only a few steps, he frequently fell.
Helping Hands Solution: IVHFH widened the hallway by nine inches and then widened the bathroom entrance and installed a 36 inch door. Habitat staff also installed no-slip vinyl click flooring in the hall.
Margarita Rodriguez has lived in her home for 31 years. She lives in the Iowa City Forest View community and she has been a source of support for her neighbors for decades. Margarita often puts her neighbors needs before her own, but with the added stress of the Covid-19 pandemic and the looming displacement of Forest View residents, she found her home was in critical need of repairs. Through Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity's Helping Hands Emergency Repair service (ERMAR), Margarita was able to make several home improvements.
Problem: Each time Margarita used her kitchen sink, the water backed up. This issue caused damage to her kitchen floor and cabinets.
Helping Hands Solution: Our ERMAR team discovered the drainpipe from the kitchen sink was installed improperly, which caused inadequate drainage. IVHFH hired a licensed plumber to properly install a new drainpipe so that water could exit the sink with no problem.
Problem: The subflooring in the bathroom of Margarita’s home suffered water damage. As a result, the bathroom floor was unstable, and Margarita feared it would collapse.
Helping Hands Solution: IVHFH hired a contractor to remove and reset the toilet, remove the damaged subflooring, replace it with new plywood, and install new flooring. As a result of these repairs, Margarita no longer has to worry about the floor in her bathroom collapsing.
Last year, IVHFH served homeowner Micki through the Helping Hands home repair program. Micki's home needed several repairs that she could not afford. She explained, "Some repairs I space off because it’s a big expense. [Helping Hands is] kind of like having backup if something bad happens. I don’t have any income right now. If I didn’t have backup during an emergency situation I don’t know what I would do. I don’t have any money for that." Micki has lived in her house for 21 years and thanks to Helping Hands, she can continue living safely in her home with her dog, Lily. Read on to learn how IVHFH addressed Micki's home repair needs.
Problem: Several years ago, a tree branch fell on the backside of the roof of Micki’s home. There was noticeable damage to the shingles and roof decking.
Our Solution: IVHFH hired a licensed contractor to remove the shingles, replace the damaged roof decking, apply underlayment, and install new shingles on the backside of the home.
Problem: The stove in Micki’s home was damaged and leaked gas causing a significant safety issue.
Our Solution: IVHFH purchased and installed a new gas stove. Because of this appliance replacement, Micki was able to cook without fear of serious injury.
Problem: The fiberglass shower in Micki’s bathroom had multiple cracks. If left untended, these cracks could cause damage to the framing and subflooring.
Our Solution: IVHFH staff installed a new shower basin and fiberglass surround. These new materials prevented serious damage to the structure of the home.
Visit our Helping Hands repair program page for more information or reach out to Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout 2021, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity continued to experience challenges to its traditional ways of working. With the help of our community, IVHFH responded with incredible agility, resilience, and compassion. We are excited to share with you a brief year-in-review.
To all of our volunteers, donors, homeowners, customers, and supporters, THANK YOU! With your help, more of our neighbors can build and improve a place to call home in 2022!
Helping Hands homeowner, Terri, has hope for a bright, warm, safe holiday season with her family. A year ago, Terri was living in a hotel with her son and his three children. For a month, her mobile home sat vacant in North Liberty with no electricity, heat, or plumbing as she waited for it to be moved to a new mobile home park in Iowa City. During this time, the water lines froze and burst. Further damages were sustained during the move to Iowa City. Terri struggled to pay for a hotel room the entire month, so she had no way to afford the repairs her home needed. That's when she turned to IVHFH.
Through the Helping Hands home repair program, Terri made multiple repairs including electrical work, carpet replacement and subflooring repair, roof repair, and more. Terri says, "The carpet in here was so matted down and cold. With this new carpet, my floors are nice and warm. And the cold air from the doors--I can actually shut my doors and not see the daylight from outside." As she talked about her grandchildren, Terri said, "I want these children to know that they have a safe space." With the help of IVHFH, Terri has achieved that goal.
Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity is thrilled to announce that our very own Tami Bonnett, Development Director, has been selected as one of Corridor Business Journal’s 40 Under 40! Each year, CBJ honors outstanding individuals who have made a significant impact in their field and their community. Tami has been with IVHFH since 2013 and has been an invaluable member of the team since day one. We are so glad to see her hard work and dedication recognized in this way and can’t wait to see what her big heart leads her to accomplish next. Congratulations, Tami!
Happy anniversary, ERMAR! IVHFH’s Emergency Repair and Major Appliance Replacement program, launched in October 2020, is officially celebrating its first birthday. Throughout this last year, we have been in awe of the community’s response to this program. In its first year, ERMAR completed 27 projects, serving 23 households in Johnson County. We continue to be flooded with calls from homeowners who are in need of this service and look forward to expanding the reach of the program. ERMAR staff are currently working with residents of Forest View Trailer Court, many of whom are in need of major repairs to continue living in their homes safely.
Since relocating to Iowa in 2012, Yasir and Rena have moved their family home on average every three years. With four children and an elderly mother to care for, this has been no small undertaking. It’s safe to say the whole family is excited about the comfort, safety, and stability they will get in their new Habitat home.
Yasir’s mother Afaf lives with her son and his family, and it has been a struggle to find a rental house that meets her mobility needs. Afaf cannot safely walk down stairs, and even with assistance she has suffered several falls while attempting to do so. In their current home, Afaf’s bedroom is on the upper level, and so she comes downstairs very rarely—only when it is absolutely necessary, and those times are very scary and distressing for her. Her grandchildren are saddened that, most days, she is effectively trapped in her bedroom, and they worry that she feels like she is in a jail. In their new home, Afaf will have a bedroom and accessible bathroom on the ground floor of the home. She will be able to safely join the rest of the family at the dinner table every night, no longer feeling fear at the thought of moving about her home.
The children—Rawan, Ibrahim, Mohammed, and Reel—are excited for their new home as well. Right now, Ibrahim, usually opts to sleep on the couch rather than in the siblings’ shared bedroom. He is looking forward to having his own space where he can sleep comfortably, have some privacy, and store his things out of the grasp of his siblings. Rawan and Reel are looking forward to the opportunity to add a pet to their family, as their current rental does not allow them. Reel is hoping for a blue cat. Rawan describes her family as “playful” and is happy that their new home will have space for them to spend time together outdoors. The children are sad about moving away from their current schools and friends, but are excited that this will be the last time they have to do so. Everyone is looking forward to settling into this new home and making it their very own.
Yasir and Rena are so grateful for IVHFH supporters who have made this project possible, and for the volunteers who are committed to helping even during Iowa summers. On the benefit of permanent housing and settling into their new neighborhood, Yasir says “We are very peaceful people; that’s very important to us. We can go with [our neighbors] and engage in the community, and we will be better for that. We believe in treating people well so they will be kind to you in return.” We wish Yasir, Rena, and their entire family well as they approach this exciting change.