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.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Dreaded Lead Issue

As we move into spring, I see a number of affiliate's beginning to start or ramp up their ABWK programs. One of the significant concerns that some affiliates are struggling with is how to deal with homes that have lead paint.

Most older homes built before 1970 have some lead paint on them. The lead is usually hidden under a coat or two of latex paint and has leached into the siding as well.

Lead paint does not need to be a problem. If you get your affiliate and site staff certified according to EPA standards it shouldn't be a problem.

At TCHFH, we have been performing lead safe practices for over 15 years with our staff and volunteers. We work closely with our Department of Health (which in many states is the EPA enforcer) and Regional EPA office. We do not test all of our homes but usually assume all have lead on them. When we do test, we are allowed to use the 3M Leadcheck swabs to determine if their is lead on a home.

We perform all the required paperwork, train our volunteers (about 20 minutes on site) and inform our homeowners on lead safety. Check with your state and local laws for disposing of paint chips.

Our biggest concern is keeping children and women who are pregnant away from the site during lead remediation.

If you get certified, perform the required lead safe practices (not as big of a deal as it might seem) and properly train and communicates to all those involved, working with lead should be a non-issue.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ABWK Blog - Spread the Word

Since creating this blog four years ago, I have seen significant growth in the number of people and Habitat affiliates from around the country and around the world visiting this site. I started the blog after I stopped working for HFHI as a consultant to assist affiliates starting their own ABWK programs.

The blog also allowed me to continue sharing information about ABWK while concentrating more of my efforts on running the original A Brush with Kindness at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.

Over the past four years, the blog has been basically promoted through word of mouth among affiliates.
However, I would love to see it used even more if it continue's to be a benefit to affiliates.

If you and your affiliate have benefited from this blog's articles and forms please pass our blog address on to others.

My next project will be to create an easy to use handbook from all of the blog posts and forms that would provide basic information on the start up and ongoing operation of programs like A Brush With Kindness.

Thanks for visiting and all the best with your ABWK program.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

CCDA - Join the movement along with HFHI

The CCDA vision is to see Christians and the ministries that they lead work effectively to bring the biblically informed philosophy of Christian Community Development to bear in under-resourced neighborhoods, resulting in flourishing neighborhoods for the glory of God!

I have been to 3 of their national conference which were inspirational and beneficial to our neighborhood work. The conference allowed us to connect with other ministries and agencies that do community development. We were able to also connect with some groups from our own community that were at the conference and begin to build significant partnerships.

This past year's conference was held in New Orleans and was attended by 2500 practitioners from around the country and world. It is also so refreshing to see such a diverse group representing many different cultures. While the conference is geared to urban revitalization it also has much to offer those working in rural settings as well.

Finally, it was wonderful to see HFHI represented and teaching a couple of workshops on NRI. I have not seen many affiliates represented at the conference in the past but am hoping we will begin to build a presence. This years conference is September 24-27 in Raleigh, NC and co-hosted by the Wake County Habitat affiliate. So if you can attend it would be a great way to make some new connections and help improve your affiliates impact.

For more information on the Christian Community Development Association and the 2014 National Conference click here: ccda.org

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ABWK Advice... Talk to Successful Affiliates

A Brush with Kindness and all of the other names associated with home restoration (please don't call it a repair program) is a wonderful way to expand your affiliates impact on families struggling to find or remain living in a safe, decent home.

There is a lot of good information about how to start and grow your program as well. However, there is also advice being given from a variety of reputable sources (that should know better) that can side-track and even cripple your program.

Much of the information being shared about ABWK is solid and will help your affiliate get up and running fairly quickly. You may even be serving 10 - 20 families a year or more. And when you're going from serving zero families in this manner to serving a dozen or more in a short span (maybe in your first year), it can create excitement at your affiliate and some good buzz in the community. This should be lauded and celebrated as wonderful accomplishments.

Yet, I've seen too many affiliates get started with great anticipation only to get sidetracked from crippling issue's that were created from receiving poor, untested advice from well meaning "Habitat Housing Experts." These experts have come from the national, state and local affiliate level. Many of which give 70% solid advice and 30% that is just plain awful advice.

Much of the advice (which I'm sure is well intended), comes from trying to treat low-income homeowners in the same manner as first time Habitat homebuyers. While we can all agree that the Habitat principles for first time homebuyers is tried, tested and tremendously successful, it does not mean these principles apply to all other homeowner situations.

While in general, many of these Habitat principles can be applied to ABWK programs, most of them need to be significantly adapted to families who are at a different place in their lives than our first time homebuyer families. Most ABWK families have purchased their homes with a traditional mortgage and have already invested significant resources into them over the years.

ABWK families do not need a hand up but more like a steadying hand to allow them to recover from unfortunate circumstances and remain living in a safe, healthy home they have worked hard to acquire and maintain.

So be careful where you get your ABWK program advice. Talk to several successful affiliates (preferably ones that are serving at least 30 - 40 families a year) about how they have started, grown and worked through issue's. ABWK is a great way to grow your affiliate and more importantly help to create and preserve more homeownership in your community.