Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity was first approached by the adult children of a homeowner expressing concerns for their 83-year-old mother who lives alone in the house where she has lived her entire life. What makes this particular Helping Hands home repair request unique is that the homeowner lives on a century farm that has been in the same family for 150 years; while many small century farms are disappearing, the homeowner’s daughter told IVHFH, “… [I]t is my mom’s dream to keep the farm and the rich tradition alive that growing up on a family farm instills in family members that are impacted by family farming.”
Realizing this dream on their own comes with several barriers: the old home was not designed for aging-in-place and lacks any accessibility features, and utilizing a walker in an inaccessible home has become increasingly dangerous. Worse yet, the homeowner cannot afford the repairs as she lives solely on a fixed social security income. The family even considered the worst-case scenario—selling the family home and farm to afford housing at a care facility. Facing these impossible choices, the family decided to reach out to Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity and their Helping Hands home repair program.
IVHFH was determined to help the homeowner afford the repairs and modifications necessary to continue living safely at home. As staff considered the funding needed to cover the cost of this project, they turned to a long-term partner, Oaknoll Retirement Residence. Oaknoll staff enthusiastically agreed to support IVHFH’s Helping Hands program because of its emphasis on aging-in-place work. Oaknoll’s Chief Executive Officer, Steve Roe says, “Oaknoll has supported Habitat for Humanity for many years. Helping our residents create home is what we do at Oaknoll. It has been important for us to share our resources in a way that supports others in our community to have quality, affordable housing—whether that be supporting a new Habitat build, or this year partnering with the Helping Hands project that will allow the owner to live more safely in her home.”
With funding in place, IVHFH quickly got to work aiming to first address the homeowner’s most critical safety and accessibility needs.
Problem (Inaccessible Bathroom): The existing shower in the home was a combination tub and shower with a sliding glass door. This made stepping into and out of the shower the most dangerous part of the homeowner’s day. In addition to the accessibility concerns in the shower, the sink and faucet were badly corroded and would likely fail soon.
Helping Hands Solution: IVHFH worked with Bea Day Plumbers to replace the tub and shower with a low-clearance unit and re-level the bathroom floor. Grab bars were then installed, and the sink and faucet were replaced. IVHFH staff finished the bathroom remodel by installing new drywall and replacing the bathroom vent.
Problem (Home Entrance): No entrance to the home could be accessed without encountering steps, making the simple act of entering and exiting a perilous task. The entrance most frequently used by the homeowner opened onto a poured concrete patio space with two steps down to a sidewalk leading to the driveway. Adding to safety concerns, there were no handrails on the patio or leading down the steps.
Helping Hands Solution: IVHFH constructed an accessibility ramp equipped with handrails leading from the sidewalk onto the concrete patio.
Problem (Roof Damage): The roof sustained damage from a storm earlier in the year. Upon inspection, IVHFH found that part of the roof was covered with asphalt shingles several of which were missing, and others were damaged.
Helping Hands Solution: IVHFH staff replaced the missing and damaged shingles to prevent further damage to the interior of the home.
With the repairs complete, IVHFH staff recently followed up with one of the homeowner’s daughters who told IVHFH, “[My mom] ... loves it. She tells everyone that comes over, ‘You gotta see my new bathroom.’ And now she's zipping up and down that ramp like no other.” She agreed the repairs were not only critical for her mom’s safety and ability to stay on the farm that means so much to their entire family, but the repairs have eased the stress and lifted the concerns she and her sister had for their mother. She explained, “Our intent is to keep her here; this is where she wants to die, and I will do everything possible to make that happen.” The family is now one big step closer to honoring their mother’s wishes and giving her many more safe and happy years living on a farm that holds a lifetime of memories.
Earlier this year, we completed a critical home repair for David in Iowa City. Originally, David reached out to IVHFH with concerns of a roof leak. At 76 years old and living on a fixed income, he was unable to undertake the project independently and lacked the financial means to hire someone to complete the repair. When Helping Hands staff visited for an initial house evaluation they quickly recognized the home was in dire shape and would require more comprehensive repairs to keep David living safely in his home.
Problem: The metal roofing was severely deteriorated with rusted-through holes and burst seams on several large sections of the roof. We determined the roofing material was irreparable and the entire roof would need replaced. As a result of the roof condition, leaking water caused extensive damage to the ceiling; soaked insulation resulted in a sagging ceiling and mold growth in the kitchen and living room. Additionally, the water had weakened the trailer floor, causing David to fall through in several locations. It was clear to IVHFH staff that the roof leak was threatening the structural viability of the home and David’s safety. In order to keep him safe and secure, it was imperative to carry out repairs to the roof, the ceiling, and the flooring of the home.
Solution (Roof): We worked with Godinez Construction (Kalona) to build a pitched roof for the home, tied it into the original framing, and covered it with new metal roofing. This changed the roof profile so water would efficiently run off the roof and prevent any pooling. The work immediately resolved the active leaks in the roof.
Solution (Floor): Once the roof was addressed, it was imperative to address the flooring—with open holes, the floor posed trip hazards and fall risks to David. IVHFH staff removed the old, damaged flooring, the waterlogged underfloor insulation, and the damaged moisture barrier. Working from below the trailer, extra blocking and framing was added to shore up the floor joists. We then installed the new moisture barrier and insulation and finished by installing the new water-resistant floor.
Solution (Ceiling): With the roof and floor fixed the ceiling became our focus. Initially our staff thought the ceiling would be the least critical and easiest repair; however, we did not foresee the extensive ceiling and frame damage caused by the long-term exposure to moisture. As we began removing the ceiling material and waterlogged insulation, we found that the moisture and rot had weakened every ceiling and roof truss in half of the home resulting in structural failure of each of those trusses—they were all replaced. New trusses were installed and blocked, new insulation placed, new moisture barrier installed, and drywall hung. After the drywall was hung we finished by re-installing lights and painting the ceiling.
According to the Iowa Department on Aging, 93 percent of Iowans age 50 and over desire to age in place but many of our neighbors, like David, face significant barriers that make aging in place unsafe and unhealthy. Through Helping Hands, services including critical home repairs, accessibility modifications, and emergency repairs and major appliance replacements (ERMAR) make home repairs possible and affordable; in this case, Helping Hands brought a home back from the brink of livability and ensured a low-income household retained access to safe, decent, affordable housing.
What is Women Build Week (WBW)?
IVHFH 2023 Women Build Week is a special kickoff of the Mary Mascher Women Build taking place April 23-29.
Volunteer Day - April 27, 8 AM-5 PM
Volunteers will help lay sod and complete related tasks at the 2022 Women Build home located at 780 Barber Place in Iowa City. Sign up to volunteer!
Frame Decorating Party - EVENT CANCELLED
This event was originally scheduled to take place at the Habitat Warehouse which was destroyed by a tornado on March 31. You can still participate! Decorate a 2'x4' framing board (stud) for the Women Build home. We ask participants to consider a donation to benefit the Mary Mascher Women Build. Pick up a stud from the Habitat office Monday-Friday 9 AM-4 PM, decorate it, and return it to IVHFH by April 21. Your board will be displayed at our Groundbreaking Ceremony AND you will be invited to our Frame Finder event this fall to see where your stud was placed in the structure of the home. Click here to donate and register. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your 2'x4' and/or register for the Frame-A-Thon and donations can be mailed to IVHFH | 2401 Scott Blvd. SE | Iowa City | IA | 52240.
Women Build Groundbreaking Ceremony - April 29, 10 AM at 2637 Blazing Star Drive, Iowa City
Join the Women Build committee and future homeowners, Etienne and Romance and their children Kenaya, Kevin, Ketan, and Kellian, as we break ground at the site of the 13th Women Build home.
STAY TUNED! We are working on many details of the Mary Mascher Build so check back for more exciting details SOON! If you would like to receive updates and announcements about Women Build, send a message to email@example.com.
About the Mary Mascher Women Build
Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity's 13th Women Build project is in honor of Mary Mascher! Mary served as an Iowa State Representative for 14 terms and taught in the Iowa City Community School District for 33 years. Mary has served the Habitat mission for decades, frequently hitting the build sites with The University Club group, Women with Hammers. Mary joins a group of 13 women in the Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity community honored for their achievements, their leadership, and their service to our neighbors.
The Women Build committee is working together to raise $55,000 in local contributions and recruit volunteers to build an energy-efficient home that will be purchased by a family in need of affordable homeownership. $5,000 will be used to make affordable repairs and/or accessibility modifications for an existing homeowner. Make a donation today to help us reach our fundraising goal!
History of IVHFH Women Build
The first Iowa Valley Habitat Women Build was completed by a committee of volunteers in 2005, the second Women Build was also completed by a committee of volunteers in 2007, but the affiliate did not commit to making the Women Build an annual project until 2011. Since then, it has become a tradition for IVHFH to name each Women Build in honor of an influential woman in the community.
2011-2022 IVHFH Women Build Honorees include: Dottie Ray, Jackie Blank, Jane McCune, Dr. Christine Grant, Jean Lloyd-Jones, Mary Palmberg, Pat Heiden, Kazi Alward, Jan Down, Katie Lammers, Doris Preucil, and Jane Hagedorn.
Recently there’s been a new face around the IVHFH office. Regina Ash-Moore joined the team last November as a bookkeeper and graciously sat down with us for a brief interview.
IVHFH: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Regina: I moved to Iowa City to attend the University of Iowa and I’ve been here ever since! My husband and I have a teenage daughter at City High and we have [five] pets in the family as well.
IVHFH: How familiar with Habitat for Humanity were you before you took this job?
Regina: Honestly, not very. I mean I knew the basics—Habitat builds houses—but I wasn’t aware of, say, the specifics of the programs. I’ve enjoyed learning more about what Habitat does, and how they do it.
IVHFH: Tell us something interesting you’ve done since you joined the team.
Regina: I learned how to use a nail gun! I was able to get out of the office one day when Construction needed some extra hands, and I got to use a nail gun and didn’t double tap it after a few tries! It was great.
IVHFH: Was that your first experience with power tools?
Regina: No way. My husband and I had to do some work in our basement a few years ago and I used a jackhammer to break up the concrete floor.
IVHFH: What do you enjoy most about working at IVHFH?
Regina: Everyone has been so welcoming. I love coming to work with such a wonderful and dedicated group of people.
IVHFH: Let’s finish up with something silly. What’s the best concert you’ve been to?
Regina: It’s gotta be Weird Al. He’s a great performer. I’ve actually seen him twice!
Welcome aboard, Regina! We love having you on our team!
To celebrate completion of the Jane Hagedorn Women Build, IVHFH hosted a formal Dedication Ceremony at Parkview Church in addition to open houses at the Women Build home in Iowa City. Thank you to Women Build committee members who came together to plan and host our open houses! As guests walked into the home on January 26 and 27, they were warmly greeted by Women Build honoree Jane Hagedorn along with future homeowner Mogahid and his family. Guests were invited to tour the home and enjoy snacks and refreshments provided by the Women Build committee. As a special tribute to several long-term supporters and Women Build committee members who had passed away in recent years, IVHFH displayed pictures and names of these beloved Habitat friends: Judy Best, Dr. Christine Grant, William "d'Grouch" Laubengayer, Von Miller, Amy Pretorius, and Lori Thomas.
At the Dedication Ceremony, Jane thanked the hundreds of supporters who made contributions to the project--volunteer time, donations to two silent auctions, financial contributions, discounted or free construction labor and supplies, and so much more. Jane said she remembers her mother always saying, "It takes a village to raise a family." She added, "Well, it takes a community to build a home!", as she reflected on the countless number of people who came together in support of Women Build 12.
Guests clapped and cheered as Jane Hagedorn handed Mogahid and Rahma the keys to their new home. The couple were joined by their children Nadeen, Mohammed, Ahmed, Mohalab, Mustafa, and Moneeb. After the ceremony was complete, guests traveled to the new home to share in a home blessing, tours of the home, and food prepared by Mogahid and Rahma's family and friends.
Thank you again to the hundreds of donors, volunteers, sponsors, and supporters of Mogahid and Rahma's home! Because of your generosity, nearly $190,000 was raised in addition to countless gift-in-kind donations of construction supplies, materials, labor, discounts, and more. As Jane Hagedorn said, "It takes a community to build a home!" Thank you to our incredible community!
In the nearly two years since introducing the Emergency Repair and Major Appliance Replacement (ERMAR) program, there has been no shortage of households who are in need of the service. ERMAR allows us to serve some of the lowest-income members of our community, swiftly addressing emergent issues that would otherwise render a home unlivable. We are excited to announce that Edith Jones has transitioned into the position of ERMAR Program Manager. We are so grateful to be able to continue growing this program.
Prior to accepting the ERMAR position Edith was a ReStore associate, but her history with IVHFH goes back even further. Edith previously served with us as an AmeriCorps service member, working with the construction crew for an entire year. She is also fluent in Spanish, frequently facilitating communication with those we serve. Edith’s diverse skill set, coupled with her passion for lifting up everyone around her, will no doubt serve her very well in this new role. We can’t wait to watch ERMAR continue to develop.
Tina lives with her husband and two children (ages 11 and 5) in a mobile home in Iowa City. The family has been living without air conditioning; with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees many days this summer, Tina who works from home and her children who are out of school for the summer were in an unsafe situation. Adding to worries, Tina suffers from asthma. Given the health and safety concerns for Tina and her children, the family reached out to IVHFH for help.
Helping Hands stepped in and because of Tina’s health and the forecasted high temperatures, IVHFH determined to address their need as an Emergency Repair and Major Appliance Replacement project (ERMAR). Through IVHFH’s ERMAR service, the air conditioning unit was repaired within just a couple days. Tina says the repair took stress off her shoulders and made her home more livable and comfortable and everyone has been able to sleep better. Tina was especially grateful that this repair meant the family would not have to take out a loan and run up more debt.
To learn more about Helping Hands home repairs and ERMAR services, click here.
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.