A Brush with Kindness is part of Habitat’s broader holistic community development strategy, which assists communities as well as families.
Habitat of Humanity of Northern Virginia adopted the program in April 2011 because it allows the organization to serve more people while increasing the number of families living in safe, decent, affordable housing. To date the affiliate has completed four A Brush with Kindness projects.
Why it Matters
A Brush with Kindness is about connecting people and restoring homes through simple acts of kindness so that homeowners can once again live in a safe and decent home.
Many low-income homeowners live in challenging circumstances which create issues that are beyond what they can handle alone. You may know of a neighbor, parent or grandparent who is struggling to keep their home in a livable condition. Homeowners must often choose between paying for food, medication, taxes, and basic utilities.
When basic family expenses exceed income month after month, home maintenance is the usual casualty. Years of deferred maintenance can cause a downward spiral of home deterioration and unsafe living conditions. Outside forces also play a role in putting the squeeze on low-income homeowners.
Often homeowners become faced with city code violations and homeowner insurance cancellation when their home is in disrepair.
Many of the homeowners we partner with have worked years to keep up their homes and now find themselves in an awkward and sometimes embarrassing place of asking for help. A Brush with Kindness helps ease wary homeowner concerns by providing home preservation services that are sensitive to homeowner circumstances.
After completing an application process, A Brush with Kindness provides caring volunteer groups who are willing to come along and help homeowners in completing the necessary work. Able-bodied homeowners work side by side with volunteers in a cooperative effort.
What Kind of Services Are Provided?
Habitat Northern Virginia will complete remodeling, renovation, and revitalization projects using volunteer work days, with costs up to $5,000. Habitat will decrease costs to homeowners through donated materials, community or corporate sponsorships, and no-interest loans. Repairs include but are not limited to the following:
- Exterior painting
- Ramps and accessible doorways
- Fence repair
- Siding repair
- Weatherization and waterproofing
Who Is Eligible?
Applicants who wish to take part in Habitat Northern Virginia’s A Brush with Kindness program must:
- Own and occupy a home that could benefit from short-term exterior improvements. (Must have issues with weatherization, safety, accessibility, or livability.)
- Earn an income between 30% and 80% of the area median income.
- Be a willing partner, with sweat equity if able, in creative ways if unable.
- Be unable to afford to pay for repairs by conventional means.
- Possess current homeowner’s insurance.
How Much Does it Cost?
Habitat for Humanity believes in a hand up, not a handout. We invite able-bodied A Brush with Kindness homeowners to partner with us to invest their “sweat equity” into the repairs on their own homes. In exchange, we will grant a zero-interest loan with a repayment plan that will avoid an excessive burden on the homeowner. Faith groups, community organizations, grants, are the major funding sources.
How Do I Apply?
Can I Be a Sponsor?
Habitat Northern Virginia is seeking sponsorships for A Brush With Kindness projects. The cost of each renovation ranges from $2,500 to $5,000. Companies, faith groups, community organizations, and people can choose to sponsor a home in full or partner with others to share the sponsorship. Sponsors will receive recognition and visibility benefits.
Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia has built 78 homes to date. More than 140 children live in these safe, decent, affordable homes. For more information on the work of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, please visit www.habitatnova.org.