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.