We are working with Sandy Steil of MMS Consultants to put together a class for women interested in hands-on learning of maintenance, repair, and construction topics. After recognizing that many women desire these skills and knowledge, but often feel uneasy attending male-centric classes, Sandy has worked tirelessly to put this class together. All instructors and participants will be women!
First Christian Church has been a long-time supporter of affordable housing in our community and has been a wonderful Habitat partner. This year, First Christian chose affordable housing as its ministry focus, and worked closely with our Habitat staff in many ways. First Christian members are on our Interfaith Committee, spend hours and hours on our build site, donate money, and have helped us spread awareness of housing issues and solutions through a housing-focused bible study series and a Habitat vacation bible school. We at Habitat are humbled to call First Christian a member and want to express sincere thanks for your support of Habitat and housing!
With great excitement, IVHFH announces that it is the recipient of a Johnson County Sustainability Grant. Awarded by the Johnson County Department of Social Services and the Department of Planning, Sustainability Grants are used to reduce the up-front cost of investments that make buildings or operations sustainable for local non-profit organizations.
IVHFH will use the grant to insulate the newly constructed warehouse, which is located on the southeast side of Iowa City. Noting the structure that currently houses temperature sensitive materials and equipment the "Hab Lab" has porous walls and uses an outdated propane furnace, IVHFH staff recently developed a five-year plan to convert the new warehouse into a temperature-controlled space. Installing foam insulation is the first step in this plan.
Upon completion of the subsequent phases of the plan, the temperature-controlled warehouse will allow construction staff and volunteers to continue work in the coldest months of the year. Construction Manager, Christy Shipley, explains, “This will help us to keep moving. In the past we had to slow down in the winter, but the new facility will give us a head start on build season and help us to be more efficient.” Shipley added, “We’re really thrilled.”
In addition to improving IVHFH’s efficiency, staff is excited by the prospect of reducing is carbon footprint. Phase two of the plan calls for installation of a heating and cooling system that utilizes air-source heat pumps. In the winter, this system will heat the building by transferring heat from the external air to the interior of the building. The system works in reverse in the summer by pumping the hot interior air to the exterior of the building. This system does not emit greenhouse gases and, remarkably, works in extremely low temperatures.
Executive Director, Heath Brewer, describes IVHFH’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, “We are very proud of our efforts to build a tight, efficient house. But we realize there are areas in our operations that offset some of the benefits of these efforts, and we want to change that. This plan (to weatherize the warehouse) is a key step in making that change.”
The Sustainability Grant will help cover the costs of installing insulation and thus allow IVHFH to direct its resources to other programs. Brewer explains the importance of the award, “This was big. Our plan is important, but it isn’t cheap. It is great to get some support from the County as we can look for other ways to invest in our organization and community.”
Many US affiliates and housing coalitions are joining Habitat for Humanity International’s first national housing advocacy campaign: Cost of Home. This campaign exists because our country, like many others, is in the midst of a national housing affordability crisis. With Iowa City being the most expensive place to live in Iowa, our affiliate has a particular interest in housing advocacy.
Our Habitat affiliate is a proud member of the Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition, and we urge you to join us! Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to add your voice to help our community, and our country, become a place where every family can afford the cost of home.
If you didn’t know, we offer free broad-based home buyer classes, which are open to the public! This class series is designed to be most useful for individuals and households interested in future homeownership, but many or all of the classes can benefit almost anyone, including those interested in learning more about household finances such as budgeting and credit scores, basics of home maintenance and energy conservation, as well as income tax preparation, renter’s and homeowner’s insurance, and more! Presenters include financial counselors and educators from Horizons: A Family Service Alliance, Habitat staff, and other local partners with expertise and passion for the topics they cover. Generous funding for these workshops has been granted by the Wells Fargo Foundation.
Please contact gabe@iowavalleyhabitat for more information or to RSVP!
Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity (IVHFH) does not operate on an island. We’re enthused by those in the community and industry who believe in a better life for others. In fact, earlier in the year, our executive director ran into Andy Martin of Martin Construction at a Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition meeting. He joked with Andy, saying he looked tired and ragged. Andy explained that he was running on fumes, but still managed to drag himself to the meeting. A few months prior to that, GT Karr of Sueppel’s Siding & Remodeling met with our construction staff and I to discuss ways to provide energy audits for low-income residents in our community. And, last fall, Katie Lammers of Lammers Construction and her crew spent most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at our Women Build, working with volunteers to build a house for an underserved Iowa City family. Finally, Jane Hagedorn, recently retired from Bea Day Plumbers, has spent the better part of 15 years volunteering her time for various IVHFH initiatives. For her efforts, she was inducted into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame in April.
Which leads me to our featured project. Last February, a social worker from the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics called IVHFH to inform us that one of its patients needed a wheelchair ramp. He could no longer manage the steps on his porch and consequently missed several medical appointments. As a result, he was hospitalized with a life threatening condition and prevented from returning home until he could safely enter and exit his house.
Within a week of receiving the call, we’d constructed a ramp and the gentleman was recovering in the comfort of his home. The simple ramp was not a feat of ingenuity. Three guys chipped ice from the sidewalk and then built it with treated lumber, brackets, nails and screws above it. But the project still is noteworthy. It greatly improved somebody’s quality of life, because safe, affordable and decent housing is a basic necessity. It’s a necessity that improves physical health; a necessity that helps children perform better in school; a necessity that allows individuals and families to stand on more stable financial footing.
Too many people live without this necessity, so we build. We get a lot of help from volunteers like Katie and Jane. We draw inspiration from affordable housing advocates like GT and Andy. We lean on our colleagues in the trades, including Karyl Bohnsack, Larry Nelson, Bryan Bunting, Alex Andino, Mike Homewood, Jake Stransky, Jeff Bergo and the staff at Tomlinson-Canon. However, this list isn’t exhaustive.
So, to all IVHFH supporters, we say thank you. We couldn’t build without you.
Article written by Scott Hawes, Helping Hands Manager, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity
Featured in the August 2019 edition of the Iowa City Area Home Builder's Association Builders News