WELCOME - This blog was created to address and discuss the common questions and topics concerning the start-up and ongoing operations of A Brush with Kindness.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Brush with Kindness Week

Announcing A Brush with Kindness Week!
September 19-26, 2015 
Habitat for Humanity

HFHI’s Home Preservation department has partnered with Valspar, Habitat’s national paint partner, to launch the first national “A Brush with Kindness Week” event. This “ABWK Week” – set for September 19 – 26, 2015 – will highlight the home preservation work U.S. affiliates do throughout the year.

Approximately 25 affiliates will be selected to each complete three to five ABWK projects during the event week
 and will receive a reimbursement grant of $1,000 per project up to $5,000.

Visit My.Habitat.org to learn more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Calculating The Cost of an ABWK Project

Figuring out material and supply cost for a project is fairly simple and straight forward if you understand the work scope. Arriving at a cost for staff, transportation and warehouse expenses are a more complicated formula.

Habitat for HumanityAt Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, we have decided to create a per day cost for our projects to simplify the process for how we pass on these costs to the homeowners we serve.

For projects that cost $3,500 or more, we put a forgiveable mortgage on the home so that we have a way to secure our investment into the home and community. The mortgage stays on the property between 7 - 10 years depending on the value of the project. We used to calculate costs based on the materials used and 50% of the retail value (which historically would come close to our organizational cost of a project.
Habitat for Humanity

However, as our projects have grown in depth and expense this model is less accurate. So we have decided to calculate our average project expenses based on days onsite including prep work.

You can see how we calculate exterior and interior projects here: ABWK Project Calculator

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Stretching Broader to Stabilize ABWK Families

Over the years we have found that our ABWK families have other pressing needs beyond fixing their homes that contribute to unstable housing situations. If our purpose is to stabilize homeowners and help them remain in their homes, then we also need to be a part of the bigger picture to help families accomplish this end.

Let me be clear, I'm not suggesting we go outside our mission of creating and preserving affordable housing. However, I am proposing that our mission goes beyond the building and rebuilding we do onsite!

One of the things we have seen when we serve families with home restoration (ABWK) services is that most families could use other assistance in helping them remain living in their home. At Twin Cities Habitat, we are beginning to walk alongside families to help them get connected to essential supportive resources for the home.

This basically means we are available to help families navigate essential resources that can help homeowners remain in a stable home. The following is a link to resources in our area we feel confident can assist struggling homeowners: http://www.tchabitat.org/resources

Here is also a link to a printed copy of helpful resources: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B26IjoD-X4sSVF9TUTE4U3lvaTA/view?usp=sharing

Saturday, February 21, 2015

ABWK - Going Beyond The Start-up Phase

A brush with kindness

The first few years of our ABWK program created a flurry of activity. Most of our family partners were seniors that owned their homes and were for the most part wonderful program partcipants. During those early years we received a lot of publicity and created many longlasting agency partners that we rely on to this day.

However, as our program became more established and built a reputation in the community for helping people restore their homes and preserve homeownership, we realized that we needed to develop more in depth policies, procedures and parameters for A Brush with Kindness.

There is a point in the program where current and future resources need to be assessed in depth and a plan developed based on strategic goals and growth opportunities. Obviously, the need in most communities continues to grow with no end in site. However, finding the necessary resources - both cash and inkind will determine to what extent your program can meet those needs.

We have chosen to grow in the area's where we can have the biggest impact - health & safety projects. These type of projects benefit homeowners the greatest to allow them to continue to living in their home. However, we balance those projects with enough volunteer friendly projects that meet demand and helps grow the program.

Most programs should be able to jump from serving 12-24 families a year (start-up phase) to serving 25-50 families a year within 5 years of start-up. Depending if your program runs on staff or volunteers, your budget should range from a start-up of $25,000 to $100,000 as you move into more and bigger projects. Obviously, staff and size of projects will make your budget vary greatly. However, it does create a general picture of where many programs start and grow into during there second phase of growth.

For much more specifics on ABWK growth and strategies please contact me at plund@abwk.net.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why A Brush with Kindness?

 Connecting People

Habitat for Humanity

A Brush with Kindness has become an integral part of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. ABWK began as an idea to help struggling low-income families repair and restore their home and create stable homeownership in the Minneapolis/St.Paul metro area. It's primary focus began in our core urban areas where aging homes were in abundance and neighborhoods were struggling to maintain housing and keep families from taking flight.

Restoring Homes

Habitat for Humanity

The U.S. loses ten's of thousands of affordable homes each year to demolition and most affiliates are not able to increase their home production to a significant extent to replace these homes. So helping to not only create but also preserve homeownership makes sense for communities throughout the country and much of the world.

Many low-income homeowners in the Twin Cities live in challenging circumstances that create overwhelming and paralyzing issues. They often are forced to choose paying for food, medication, or basic utilities and put needed home repairs off until they can no longer be ignored.

Yet years of deferred maintenance often leads to unsafe and unhealthy living conditions. A home left in disrepair may result in city code violations and homeowner insurance cancellation. Many of the homeowners we partner with have worked years to maintain their homes and now find themselves in an awkward and sometimes embarrassing position of asking for help. 

As an affordable housing provider, Twin Cities Habitat understands the importance of homeownership for economic, physical, and psychological well-being. A Brush with Kindness helps ensure families are able to live in safe, healthy homes. The program not only helps keep homeowners in their homes, but also helps to revitalize neighborhoods and saves communities thousands of dollars in safety net assistance for homelessness, nursing and hospital care.