At Iowa Valley Habitat, we — like so many — are adapting and continue to work with compassion and hope (and safety!). We are balancing how best to assist our community members through this time while also considering what our organization may look like in the future. For the past two months, we have directed much of our efforts to support other agencies providing much-needed services like food delivery and rapid re-housing. To continue our work of improving housing stability through affordable homeownership, we have also completed and sold both of our new affordable homes in Hills, are finishing up a rehab in Iowa City, and continue to complete Helping Hands projects. Although we are unsure when we might get back to building new affordable homes, our greatest goal at Habitat throughout this strange time remains the same: to lovingly work in partnership, for the betterment of all in our community.
-Article written by Gabe Martin, IVHFH Community Outreach Director
Homes to deliver home essentials to those in our community who are resettling.
When the calendar turns to June, we will get started on a repair project in Wellman. We are excited by the thought of doing what we do best: building. In the meantime, it is reassuring to know that, amid an extraordinary amount of uncertainty that has transformed so much, our community has a strong network of organizations that continue to work to provide safe and decent housing. The Helping Hands crew is happy to roll up their sleeves and be a part of that.
-Article written by Scott Hawes, IVHFH Helping Hands Manager
In news from the community, the Johnson County Livable Community Housing Action Team is hosting a series of webinars that will provide attendees with information related to aging. The webinars are free and open to people of all ages. They will be held the second Wednesday of each month at 12:00pm. To register, click here or view the webinars through the Johnson County Social Services Facebook page.
Small Gift. Big Impact. Campaign Helps IVHFH Finish Critical Home Repair for a Washington Homeowner.
Here is a new twist on an old hypothetical question: What would be your first meal? Specifically, if it was not safe for you to have a refrigerator or stove in your home, what is the first meal you would prepare once your home became safe? For Washington homeowner, Jackie, the answer was her grandson’s favorite: tatertot casserole with chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
As many followers of IVHFH are aware, Jackie’s house was unsafe; the kitchen flooring was damaged so badly that she feared the subfloor would collapse; the cabinet doors did not stay shut; the electrical wiring was outdated and a fire hazard, and the framing for one of the walls was severely rotted. The damage was so significant that Jackie gave away her heavy appliances out of fear that her floor would collapse. Remarkably, Jackie and her grandson lived for more than two years without a washing machine, dryer, and stove. She was resourceful so she leaned on friends to help her with laundry, and she cooked meals in the microwave and crock-pot. Nonetheless, she longed for the day when she could once again spend the time to prepare her grandson’s favorite meal.
Unable to pay for the costly repairs and unable to secure a home equity loan, Jackie turned to IVHFH’s Helping Hands program for a hand-up. After selecting Jackie’s home for an affordable repair project, IVHFH oversaw a complete transformation of the kitchen in which the subflooring was replaced, the floor joists were reinforced, the wiring brought up to code, the framing issues corrected, and new cabinets installed. IVHFH also addressed a few exterior concerns by replacing the electrical service, installing new porch lights, and replacing an exterior door. IVHFH wrapped up the project by installing new light fixtures, a new stove, a new refrigerator, and a washing machine. These repairs mean more to Jackie than simply having a safe home; preparing meals at home allows her to save money and, because
she no longer relies solely on canned food, her meals are healthier. Additionally, she will teach her grandson basic life skills so that he is able to do laundry, cook, and wash dishes. Soon, her grandson will be able to prepare her favorite meal.
IVHFH’s strength lies in bringing people together who wish to make homeownership affordable. This project was no different as more than 70 people came together to support Jackie with nearly $3,000 in contributions to our Small gift. Big impact. campaign. IVHFH is eternally grateful for this support and thanks all who contributed by donating and sharing the campaign with their friends and family. Your support is sincerely appreciated.
-Article written by Scott Hawes, IVHFH Helping Hands Manager
Each year, IVHFH seeks an influential woman in the community to honor with the Women Build. The honoree works with a committee of women to raise $55,000 in local donations and recruit volunteers to help a local family build an affordable home and to help an existing homeowner make affordable repairs or accessibility modifications to their home. Along with the efforts of the Women Build committee, a local family will partner with IVHFH to build an energy-efficient home that they will purchase with an affordable home mortgage. The Habitat homeownership program ensures that the household pays no more than 30% of their income to cover housing costs allowing more of their funds to be dedicated toward other essentials like education, health and transportation. Additionally, Women Build will support a local resident in need of critical home repairs and/or accessibility modifications. Through Helping Hands, a homeowner will receive affordable repairs so they can live more safely in their existing home.
Jane and the Women Build committee encourage everyone, regardless of gender, to take part in any way they can. We need supporters to swing a hammer on the construction site, provide food for volunteers, make in kind donations or financial donations and attend fundraising events.
Consider a donation today to help IVHFH reach its $3,500 fundraising goal for this project. With your support, we can help make housing safe for more homeowners in our community.
Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity believes safe, decent, and affordable is transformational, so a sense of melancholy fell over the entire organization when, amid pleas for help from residents of manufactured housing parks, a bill that would offer basic protections to our fellow community members failed in sub-committee last month. The protections in the bill were reasonable as they would require owners of manufactured home parks to provide 180 days notice prior to raising lot rents, justify lot rent increases greater than inflation, and protect tenants from arbitrary evictions. Its aim, to give residents of manufactured housing the same protections as tenants in more traditional housing, was modest. More tangibly, it would prevent scenes like this. That the bill did not even get a hearing is perplexing. Legislators went to great lengths to receive input from all stakeholders that would be directly impacted by the bill, including residents and owners of manufactured housing parks. Further yet, support for the bill was not split along party lines as 15 Republican Senators joined 15 Democratic Senators in co-sponsoring the bill.
While this development is discouraging, we don’t feel a sense of defeat. There is strong support for key components of the bill, and some of those components may be taken up for consideration later in the 2020 legislative term. For now, however, there are leaders in our community who continue to advocate for just housing laws for manufactured housing residents. IVHFH staff supports their efforts and encourage you to read up on the issues surrounding manufactured housing, starting with the links below. We also urge you to support the efforts led by the Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition and Johnson County Manufactured Housing Task Force. If you are interested in obtaining more information or joining one of these groups, contact Sara Barron at email@example.com
Learn more about the proposed bill and the crisis many manufactured housing residents are facing:
Johnson County Mobile Home Task Force Report
Des Moines Register: "'The scale was unprecendented': Iowa legislators seek to bolster righst of mobile home park residents"
Iowa City Press Citizen: "North Liberty mobile home residents worry about 58 percent rent increase"
In January, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity kicked off a 12 week home improvement course designed to give women an opportunity to learn how to do various home improvement tasks in a safe, nonjudgmental environment while remodeling a Habitat for Humanity home in Iowa City. The Women's Home Improvement Confidence Course is a series of Saturday classes where participants are introduced to the challenges and obstacles faced in a real-world remodeling environment. Classes include hands-on experience with:
Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity wants to thank Sandra Steil of MMS Consultants for her essential role in getting these workshops established. Sandra says, "My hope is that as women take these classes, they will develop confidence to take on other projects within their own homes." Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity plans to continue offering similar educational opportunities to the public. Stay tuned for updates on the Women's Home Improvement Confidence course and more!
Approximately two years ago the subfloor in Jackie’s kitchen started to collapse. With the sagging floor came cabinet doors that did not stay shut, a counter top that separated, and constant fear that one false step might cause the entire kitchen to collapse. The problem was so troubling that she removed the refrigerator and stove out of fear the weight of the appliances would cause
the subfloor to finally give out. The kitchen was especially dangerous for her grandson, who she adopted several years ago. Jackie says, “I was at my wit’s end, I didn't know what else to do…I have to do something! And I can’t get a loan anywhere.”
After learning that Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity makes affordable home repairs through the Helping Hands program, Jackie turned to us. Upon inspecting the home, we determined it necessary to update the wiring in the kitchen, reinforce the joists below the kitchen, replace the flooring, replace the cabinets, replace the appliances and install a new counter top. When discussing the project, Jackie looks forward to simple activities that make a home comfortable like doing laundry and baking. She is also excited about passing these skills along to her grandson, “I think just being able to have [my grandson] have chores like normal people, you know because I want to teach him life skills and he wants to cook and he knows how to cook and do laundry, so I want to be able to help him move forward and be what he needs to be in society.”
Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity is undertaking our first Small Gift. Big Impact. campaign in support of Jackie and her
grandson. The goal of this campaign is to provide IVHFH supporters with an opportunity to make a small contribution that will add up to make a big impact on the life of an IVHFH partner. With this in mind, we need a gift of $10 from 350 people. You can donate by visiting any one of the links below.
To those who make a small gift in support of Jackie, she is left nearly speechless, “I don’t think there are words. You could say thank you, but you can’t really…to say how much I appreciate it, I don’t think you can do that.”
Living on a fixed income makes even modest home repairs difficult to afford, and we were reminded of this when we met Karen and Marshall earlier this year. The couple was at risk of losing their homeowner’s insurance because of a faulty roof and encroaching tree, yet were unable to pay for the badly needed repairs. Your support for our Helping Hands program enabled us to lend them a hand by repairing the roof, replacing the shingles, installing a proper venting system, and removing the tree. These repairs ensure the two will continue to live safely in their home yet aren’t financially burdened by the repair. Expressing her gratitude for the Habitat community of supporters, Karen says, “We’re proud. Habitat for Humanity is nothing short of God’s work. The people are so kind and nonjudgmental, just like family. ”
bonds that shape developmental growth. The new Habitat home they are building will close a 15-year chapter of uncertainty, allowing an incredible family to put down roots in our community and build lasting, productive relationships. They belong.
Heartwarming stories like these are why your gift is so important. Please make a year-end donation to Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity today because home is the key to our community. Together we can help more families like Karen and Marshall and Chubaka and Mwangaza in 2020. Together we can work together to build a community of strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.
Jesse Bulman, AIA, Neumann Monson Architects
Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity Board President