Our Opinion: Habitat constructs home improvement program

News Tribune editorial

Some properties simply need some brushing up.

River City Habitat for Humanity is the local chapter of a faith-based organization dedicated to providing affordable home ownership.

Traditionally, the mission has entailed construction or wholesale renovation of single-family homes, with completion of its 80th local build targeted this fall.

But, what about properties that are fundamentally sound, except for a specific problem – a leaking roof, sagging porch or aging retaining wall?

To address those needs, the local chapter has initiated a new program, titled “A Brush With Kindness.”

The program is designed to finance home improvements projects, then allow the property owner to pay off the small project loan, just as owners of Habitat homes repay affordable home loans.

The River City chapter today kicks off a two-week fundraising campaign, with donations being accepted through Oct. 15 at Hy-Vee and Schulte’s grocery stores.

A $2,500 gift from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans will go toward a pilot project – rebuilding a decrepit retaining wall at a home built previously by Habitat.

Kelly Smith, executive director of the chapter, anticipates an “overwhelming” need for the new program.

Improvement projects will cost an average of $1,500 and typically will be completed by volunteers in one weekend.

Qualifications generally will mirror the selection process for home ownership, but applicants are not required to be Habitat homeowners.

The local chapter has established an ambitious agenda to complete five Brush With Kindness this year.

Eventually, the program will become a revolving fund, with loan repayments financing new projects.

First, however, Habitat must build the coffers that will serve as the foundation for this new project. The chapter extends an invitation to share its mission.

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