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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
Earlier this year, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity was approached by a man who was experiencing more than his share of bad luck. Jim, of Lowden, IA, had been in a car accident that left him unable to work. In addition, medical concerns had him in and out of the hospital through the winter, and his home’s roof sustained catastrophic damage in last summer’s derecho. When the plaster cracked and began to fall in the dining room, he knew he needed help. Knowing that he would not be able to afford the repairs on his own, he reached out to our organization.
Our Helping Hands program was able to secure grants to pay for the replacement of Jim’s roof, install some much-needed grab bars throughout the home, and arrange for weatherization improvements to the rest of his home. These repairs will help him stay in his home and ensure his continued access to decent, safe housing.
Our partnerships with the Eastern Iowa Regional Housing Corporation and the US Bank Foundation and US Bank Tipton branch were instrumental to the success of this. These organizations provided the funding to pay for the labor and materials needed to get the job done. Without their commitment to the Cedar County community, homeowners like Jim would be without options. Expressing his thanks, Jim said, “I’m very thankful. God bless the people that reached out and made it possible for me to afford to get the work done.”
Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity is excited to announce some recent staffing changes! We sat down with Scott Hawes and Aaron Kiesey, who have both recently transitioned into new roles, to discuss what’s changing for them and for the organization.
IVHFH: Can you tell us what your previous position was?
Aaron: I was the ReStore Co-Director. In addition to overseeing store operations, I focused on building relationships with local corporate and individual donors.
Scott: I was the Helping Hands Program Director, so I worked to connect qualified applicants with local funding, subcontractors, and other resources to make the housing improvements they needed.
IVHFH: And your new role?
Scott: I’m now the Associate Executive Director. I’ll be focusing on organization-wide operations with an emphasis on our ongoing partnership with the South District Neighborhood and developing our Financial Literacy and Homeowner Education program. I’ll continue overseeing Helping Hands operations as well, especially Emergency Repairs and Major Appliance Replacement (ERMAR) projects that we undertake in Johnson County.
Aaron: I’ve moved into the role of Helping Hands Program Director. I’ll be taking over the work of connecting homeowners with the necessary resources to remedy their housing problems, and I’ll be focusing on projects in Cedar, Iowa, Louisa, and Washington Counties.
IVHFH: What are you excited about being able to do in your new role?
Scott: I’m really looking forward to how this staffing change will allow us to increase our reach in the community. For example, these first 9 months of the ERMAR program have shown us that there is a huge unmet need for these types of repairs in our community. Being able to focus on developing and expanding that program is going to be very impactful.
Aaron: I love that I now have the opportunity to directly interface with our clients. In ReStore my focus was raising funds for our affiliate. Now I get to experience up close what those funds can do. I really enjoy building relationships with clients and helping them achieve critical home repairs—I love the direct service aspect of this job.
IVHFH: And just for fun, can you share an interesting fact about yourself?
Aaron: I’m a Certified Mediator in the states of Iowa and Minnesota. Several years ago I opted to take a course through Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s Dispute Resolution Institute. The skills I learned have benefitted me both personally and professionally. It was very enriching.
Scott: I actually used to be a teacher! I taught social studies to students in grades 6 through 12. I’ve taught in Greeley, Iowa, in China through the Peace Corps, and spent 5 years at the Colegio Bolivar in Colombia.
Congratulations, Aaron and Scott! We are so blessed to have you both on our team. Your dedication to service and determination to make community-wide improvements is a major asset to our organization, and we can’t wait to see the amazing things you will do in your new roles.
Through Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity’s Helping Hands repair program, a single-mother in North Liberty has replaced the flooring throughout her home.
Homeowner Geri’s son, Tajiri, has severe allergies. As a baby, Tajiri was experiencing hair loss, breathing problems, skin irritations, and more, but it was difficult to determine what was causing his symptoms. At the time, the family had pets in their home, but suspecting an allergy was causing Tajiri’s health problems, Geri removed the pets from their home. Later testing showed Tajiri suffers from several allergies including pet dander. Tajiri continues to struggle and his allergies make it difficult for him to sleep. Even after years of not having pets, the pet dander in the carpet throughout their home and vent/duct system triggers Tajiri’s allergies. Geri says, “If you have a situation where a child has severe allergies and is allergic to the home, what do you do? Not everybody can just move to another home. It really was a no-win situation.”
As part of the repair project, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity will had the vents and ducts in the home cleaned. Sobaski Abbey Carpet and Floor donated the labor, materials, and supplies to remove all the carpeting in Geri and Tajiri’s home and replace it with vinyl plank flooring.
Homeowner Geri says, “I tell my foster children from day one, "No matter how it looks, you are never alone. There's always someone in your corner, they just have to find you." I got that saying from my grandmother. When I found out what was wrong with my son and not being able to do what I needed to help him, as a single mother, I felt helpless. But true to my grandmother's words [Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity has] now proved to me that I too, am not alone.”
IVHFH would like to thank Sobaski Abbey Carpet and Floor for their generous sponsorship of this project!
This project is part of Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity’s annual Women Build program. The 2021 Women Build is in honor of Jane Hagedorn, master plumber and former owner of Bea Day Plumbers. Jane and the IVHFH Women Build committee are working with Habitat staff to raise $55,000 to support construction of a new Habitat home in Iowa City as well as the Helping Hands repair for Geri and Tajiri.
Geri and Tajiri's project was recently featured on KCRG: https://www.kcrg.com/2021/04/30/north-liberty-mom-receives-free-flooring-to-help-autistic-son-with-severe-allergies/.