Today we submitted a grant to Bike & Build. (Bike & Build creates an opportunity for young adults to bike across the country raising money and awareness for affordable housing.) We’ve requested funding each year since 2009 for operational funds for the Epicenter (serving as matching non-federal funds for our USDA grant; to-date we’ve received $15,508.55 from Bike & Build rider donations and grants).
This year, we decided to switch it up: instead of operational funds, we requested funding to create a critical home repair micro-loan program. In the three-plus years we’ve been here, we’ve learned at least a couple things:
1. Full houses (design and construction) take a while.
2. Many existing homes simply need repairs or rehabilitation to become more accessible, healthy, or otherwise durable. In fact, we’ve identified through research for the City’s Housing Plan that 45.7% of Green River homes are in need of critical or major home repairs.
In response to this finding, we feel the direction of writing for funding for a home repair program would best serve our fellow residents for the amount of money we are able to request from Bike & Build (maximum $10,000). What follows is an excerpt from our application to Bike & Build for 2012’s grant funding:
“Our request for $10,000 this year would be used to establish a revolving loan fund to be used for micro-loans on critical home repairs; recipients will repay the loans at 0-2% interest (based on income) over a duration that makes the payments affordable. Now in our fourth year of operation, the Epicenter is at the cusp of becoming a major provider of affordable housing. We’ve partnered with USDA Rural Development to build the first two 502 Home Loan-funded homes in Green River, and we’re working with the University of Utah’s School of Architecture + Planning students to design and build a USDA model home (with a $70,000 complete price tag target) here in Green River. The much-appreciated $10,000 from B&B this year will bring the Epicenter into a prominent, coordinated role of directly assisting in alleviating housing burdens. The revolving loan fund will be used to repair/rehabilitate homes that are at a tipping point of becoming hazardous and/or unhealthy to live in. A recent City housing survey quantified that 45.7% of homes in Green River are at the worst two condition levels. These conditions are subsidized by the fact that 32% of Green River homes were built prior to 1970; these 42-plus-year-old homes are of the highest risk of deteriorating further and thereby requiring a much higher investment to bring them back up to the “sound” qualification. Simple repairs or renovations will alleviate these houses from the burdens they are placing on the homeowners, who otherwise see very limited options of how to repair their homes. Issues such as wheelchair accessibility or even such things as roof and window repairs require a specific knowledge we have as architectural graduates who have spent hundreds of hours on-site at our design/build projects. A simple $1000 repair, for instance, can mean the difference between a homeowner being able to comfortably access their shower or another homeowner from making a minor roof repair before it became a major roof repair.
The Epicenter measures success by the number of families and individuals assisted through this revolving loan fund and the number of young adults we are able to host and get involved. Our new internship program has given us access to the students at the high school, who have returned surveys we facilitated that indicate their desire to work on construction rehabilitation projects. Having the capital provided by this B&B grant would create opportunities to engage this youth and provide for them meaningful community-building experiences, where they not only learn the trades of construction but also gain self-confidence and community pride. These opportunities for young adult involvement would begin as soon as funding was received and would be available perpetually, as the loan fund would replenish itself forever.”
The full grant is available upon request.
Working in the nonprofit affordable housing world? Apply for a grant here. Applications are due June 8th.