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

Monday, June 8, 2015

Aging in Place

There are 10,000 individuals turning 65 each day. 90% of those adults want to continue to live in their current home as long as possible. 36% of homeowners over the age of 52 added at least one assistive feature to their home in 2012.

Given that over 50% of those we serve through ABWK are aging adults (over 60) and that we are seeing an ever growing need to perform deeper accessibility work in these homes, we are looking to expand our services to these aging homeowners.

We currently install ramps, railings, grab bars and perform other basic accessibility work in some of these homes. This is in addition to our regular health and safety projects we do in partnership with aging adults.

However, as baby boomers continue to reach 60 in droves and more homeowners desire to age in place we see an incredible opportunity to expand our accessibility services to include: zero entry showers, home entrances without steps, widen doorways, install lever door handles etc.

We also see a need for adapting multi-story homes and adapt them to one level living. Either by closing off the upstairs or creating another housing unit to rent so the homeowner has another source of income and another community connection. We also may expand our home building to include senior housing. One possibility might be to exchange a homeowners 2 story home for one that is more "senior friendly."

We have much more research to do to understand where our niche might be in helping aging adults live independently in their homes and communities as long as possible.

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 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:

Here is also a link to a printed copy of helpful resources:

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