Habitat for Humanity initiates new program to assist with important home improvements for low income homeowners
Fauquier Habitat for Humanity is well-known in the County for partnering with families to build and finance homes they might not otherwise be able to afford. Habitat has developed a new program, A Brush with Kindness, which focuses on exterior repairs for low income homeowners, accessibility issues, and aging in place options for older residents.
Dustin Lape, a recent graduate of Liberty University, has lived in Warrenton since June 2017. He is working for Fauquier Habitat as an AmeriCorp Vista Member, which is a federal program similar to the Peace Corps, but provides domestic services. He was brought onboard to support the Neighborhood Revitalization program, which is overseen by Mary Correia, the community development director. Correia and Lape have been instrumental in initiating A Brush with Kindness here in Fauquier County.
Habitat’s executive director, Paul Linz, said, “Fauquier Habitat is changing to serve more families and better address the need for affordable housing in our community. We are adding new services like A Brush with Kindness in our home repair area. We are working with other organizations to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods throughout our service area by looking beyond our traditional housing space into all the things that make a community thrive”
Fauquier Habitat created this program to provide a greater range of services to more families than what the home construction program may assist. Lape said, “A Brush with Kindness was created to alleviate cost burdens for homeowners who might otherwise not be able to afford important home improvements. Plus, we wanted to find a way to help members of the community have a safe home, where they are able to age in place.”
A Brush with Kindness is a standard Habitat program offering, and guidelines were developed in conjunction with the critical home repair program. Best practices from other Habitat affiliates were used in the creating the template for the outreach efforts. This new initiative will provide critical repairs and other improvements for low-income homeowners.
Specifically, the work will provide more energy efficient and accessible homes. Lape said, “Accessibility improvements specifically designed to help individuals with disabilities, and allow older homeowners to age in place is one of our concerns.” Exterior home improvements will also encompass minor repairs, painting, clean-up, minor landscaping, and tree services.
Lape shared, “We have created a new way for homeowners, who would be burdened by financing repairs or improvements, to pay for services. In lieu of paying up front, or having a loan to repay, homeowners are allowed to pledge – and MUST complete – community service hours used by members in their community.” This pilot program is known as timebanking.
He also noted,, “We’re excited to be pioneering this concept in our Neighborhood Revitalization focus neighborhood (we hear we’re one of the first Habitat affiliates to try this in the nation). Not only will this help relieve financial burdens, but it’s also a really great way to help neighbors connect with and support one another, develop a greater sense of community, and create a pool of needed resources right in their own neighborhood.”
Homeowners selected for the timebanking program may provide services they are able to complete (babysitting, driving someone to the doctor, helping an older neighbor with chores, etc.). This allows disabled or elderly individuals the opportunity to partake in this initiative. Community services provided by individuals will be posted online where members of the community may view all services available, and these services are arranged by category. Some of the categories include: transportation, community activities, business services, wellness, recreation, and arts & crafts.
Although this program has launched, Fauquier Habitat’s A Brush with Kindness program is in need of sponsors, project materials, and donations to cover the costs of repairs in order to begin the application process. Once sponsorships are in place, the application process will open to County residents.
If you are interested in being a sponsor, submitting a donation, or would like additional information, contact Fauquier Habitat directly. The office is located at 24 Beckham Street, Warrenton, and the office phone is 540-341-4952.
An application process determines if a homeowner is eligible and includes the following criteria, and the applicant must:
- Own the home needing improvements and have no outstanding mortgage payments or unpaid property taxes.
- Make 60 percent or less of the Area Median income for Fauquier County, as determined by HUD; for a family of four, that’s an annual household income of about $66,000/year.
- Be willing to partner with Fauquier Habitat by making “sweat equity” contributions to the project (volunteering on the site, providing hospitality, etc.)
- Be willing and able to pay for the repairs. Habitat will offer low or no interest loans, or, if that is too much of a financial burden, time banking community service hours prorated to a financial equivalent.
- Be located in the Neighborhood Revitalization focus neighborhood (for the first round of ABWK). Habitat’s Brush with Kindness will be focused in a community that is specific to the Neighborhood Revitalization program.
How can you help?
Fauquier Habitat Brush with Kindness needs community support, or this program will not be possible.
- Sponsors are needed: Good neighbor – $1,000; Community Partner – $1,000; Community Builder – $5,000. Each level provides a “thank you” to it’s sponsors. For more information, contact Fauquier Habitat directly.
- Donations of project materials and services would be gladly accepted. Call the main office and they will help make the arrangements for the donation of supplies.
Calling all volunteers: Volunteers are always needed, so call 540-341-4952, or visit the website (FauquierHabitat.org/Get-Involved) to complete the volunteer application. Once specific projects dates are assigned, volunteers will also be able to sign-up through the PATH Volunteer Center (letsvolunteer.org). A Brush with Kindness also seeks individuals with experience in construction, accessibility ramps, landscaping, and donated tree services. Plus, volunteers who can assist in making lunch are always welcome.
Calling all youth groups: This program is an ideal program for the youth to become involved. Volunteer activities for 14 to 18 year olds volunteer activities include painting, landscaping, clearing lots (with adult supervision as long as the construction site is not active). For those between the ages of 16 and 17, individuals may engage in construction with adult supervision, but no power tools or roofing work will be permitted. For volunteers who are 18 or older, there are no limitations, and participants may engage in all types of the construction efforts.