Reviving Home: Fauquier Habitat for Humanity helps families gain back the stability and safety home should provide.
Warrenton, Va., April 15, 2021— Over the course of the pandemic, ensuring families can stay in healthy and safe housing homes has become a priority for communities across the United States. Fauquier and Rappahannock Counties are no different, as too many of our neighbors live in houses that may exacerbate health challenges instead of alleviating them.
In response to the increased need for healthy and affordable homes, Fauquier Habitat has committed to raising $100,000 for home repair programs to ensure families, seniors, and veterans can remain safely in their homes. “During the pandemic, we’ve all learned that having a safe home is the key to staying healthy,” says Darryl Neher, Chief Executive Officer of Fauquier Habitat for Humanity. “The homeowners we serve through our home repair programs are in need of repairs that will make their home healthier and safer – but many need additional assistance in paying for the necessary repairs. Leaky roofs, substandard plumbing, damaged flooring, dated and exposed wiring, and old windows contribute to an environment where mold, allergens, pest infestations, and other safety hazards exacerbate asthma, cause injuries, and result in untenable living situations.” Fauquier Habitat performs critical home repairs – such as fixing holes in roofs or floors, replacing broken heating systems, or making structural repairs to a house – as well as home preservation projects that include painting siding or caulking windows and doors.
In addition to critical home repair and home preservation programs, Fauquier Habitat’s aging in place program helps seniors live out their life in the comfort and safety of their own home. Many seniors may experience difficulty entering or exiting their home or may have trouble taking care of personal hygiene. In those cases, Fauquier Habitat can install a ramp to the front door of the home and grab bars and walk in showers in the bathroom to mitigate fall risks.
Similar to Fauquier Habitat’s homeownership program, households participating in one of the home repair programs must meet three criteria: a willingness to partner, the ability to pay, and a need for repairs that increase the safety or longevity of the home. Individuals and families partner with Fauquier Habitat by providing sweat equity on their home repair project, as they are able. They also repay a zero-interest loan for the partial cost of the repair, designated by a sliding scale based on household income. “The sliding scale repayment plans ensure that families can afford the repairs their home receives while also enabling a portion of the original investment to cycle back into a revolving fund to help additional families receive repairs,” says Neher. “Every dollar put into our home repair programs will continue to be leveraged for additional repairs as families begin to repay their zero-interest loan. Our donors can be confident that their investment will have community-wide impact.”
Additionally, home repairs play an essential role in preserving the stock of affordable homes in Fauquier and Rappahannock counties. With 1 in 8 families in Virginia spending half or more of their income on housing, the need for affordable homes is ever-increasing. By completing home repairs on owner-occupied homes, families can safely remain in their homes instead of moving into new ones, which helps ensure the affordable homes Fauquier Habitat builds remain available for low-income households transitioning into homeownership from the rental market.
“We are excited to partner with our supporters, our community and local businesses to reach our goal of raising $100,000 for our home repair programs. We are kicking off our Reviving Home fundraiser through Give Local Piedmont, a local giving day run by the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation,” says Taylor Rivera-Stone, Fauquier Habitat’s associate director of engagement & development. This year’s Give Local Piedmont Day is on May 4, but early giving has already started. To help ensure families, seniors and veterans remain safely in their homes, supporters can make a donation through Fauquier Habitat’s Give Local Piedmont page. “And, as soon as we are able to safely host volunteers, our supporters will be able to join us on our home repair projects,” says Rivera-Stone. “We are excited to get our community involved in helping families, seniors and veterans gain back the stability and safety home should provide.” More information about Fauquier Habitat’s home repair programs or Reviving Home fundraiser can be found on their website or by calling Fauquier Habitat’s office at 540-341-4952.
Fauquier Habitat Buys Properties with PATH Grant
Fauquier Habitat for Humanity and the PATH Foundation announced this month an investment in affordable housing through the Haiti Neighborhood Revitalization initiative. Funded by a $1,050,000 grant, Fauquier Habitat has taken ownership of five properties comprising nine living spaces. The initiative allows Fauquier Habitat to lead a focused neighborhood revitalization program to preserve Haiti Street history while ensuring quality affordable housing. The first houses were built on “Hayti” Street starting in 1869. The street was a new road between Alexandria Turnpike and Horner Street. The street was known as “Hayti” since the 1800s until the spelling of the name was changed to Haiti several years ago.
Christy Connolly, PATH Foundation president and CEO, said this is an important step in tackling a difficult problem. “Availability of affordable housing in our area is a real issue, and it is challenging to find ways to chip away at the problem. We believe that the Fauquier Habitat effort is very strong because of its extensive planning and partnership with neighborhood residents, the Town of Warrenton, Fauquier County, and other regional and national organizations with proven success in these efforts.”
Fauquier Habitat Executive Director Darryl Neher added, “Fauquier Habitat values the PATH Foundation’s ongoing support of our efforts to protect and expand the availability of permanently affordable housing in Fauquier and Rappahannock counties. With this significant grant, we have acquired five properties on Haiti Street, bringing our total inventory to 11 properties, representing 20 units of housing. In doing so, we’re getting in front of potential gentrification of the neighborhood, which most often means displacement of people, further escalation of housing prices, and the economic erosion of affordability in the county. What’s next is a strategic-planning process to help us identify how to best utilize the properties in pursuit of fulfilling our mission to ensure everyone has a safe, decent, and affordable place to live. Habitat is a hand-up not a hand-out. Habitat Partner Families must demonstrate the ability to pay a mortgage, just like every other homeowner.”
The planning process will allow residents of the neighborhood, Fauquier Habitat staff, town officials, architects Jim Hricko, representatives from HD Advisors, Virginia Housing Development Authority, Virginia Community Development Corporation, and other interested community partners to determine possibilities for the neighborhood. This significant process is expected to take six to 12 months.
Kirsten Dueck, PATH Foundation senior program officer, has worked on the effort since it was first envisioned three years ago. “We continue to be impressed with Fauquier Habitat’s efforts to collaborate with neighbors, community members and experienced organizations to make certain this revitalization program is approached thoughtfully. The PATH Foundation’s grant provides for the purchase of the properties, but also for hiring essential project staff to shepherd the process.”
She added, “It has been incredibly special to be part of a group of people truly committed to honoring the Haiti Street neighborhood history and to working together toward its healthy and vibrant future.”
Fauquier Habitat’s Director of Community Development Mary Correia has been instrumental in the project’s inception and development. She said, “From the earliest days of our neighborhood revitalization work, PATH has fundamentally understood the importance of Habitat’s aspiration to protect this culturally and historically significant neighborhood from market-rate gentrification, and supported our work in helping residents identify and realize goals for a sustainable, improved quality of life in their community. It is so gratifying to be able to embark on this next phase of the journey because of this extraordinary demonstration of the foundation’s buy-in to our vision of building not just homes, but healthy, thriving communities.“
Carolina Gomez-Navarette has also been involved in the planning of the project as a Fauquier Habitat board member and Habitat Home Owner/Haiti Street Resident. Carolina said, “I am thankful for PATH’s generosity and for God putting me on this path with Habitat. Sometimes I cannot believe I am part of this work to make our community better.”
“Fauquier Habitat not only builds deserving family’s homes, it also is preserving existing affordable housing by offering critical home repairs for lower-income families who already own their home. These repairs are necessary to maintain the health, safety and longevity of their home. However, many families cannot afford to hire contractors to make these repairs. A key strategy in making a positive impact of affordable housing must include a strategy of preserving the existing stock through repairs. This is especially pressing for our aging population, who may not be able to keep up with the needed repairs. Projections show that over the next ten years, there will be an explosive growth in seniors age 65 and over. We must be ready to offer solutions for this population in particular, along with all households of any age who are in need of repairs,” says Neher.
We are Building!
Our newest build is located at 116 Haiti Street in Warrenton. Come build with us on Wednesdays and Saturdays through November. No building experience necessary, our construction manager will walk you through every step! Build volunteers must be over the age of 16 (ages 16-17 must volunteer with a guardian). Sign up to build or provide lunches to our volunteers: Volunteer now!