The Real Estate Weekly 5.22.2019

Page 26

MAY 22 - MAY 28, 2019 ISSUE 2821



Albemarle Home Improvement Program:

Meeting Needs,




alk to Jennifer Jacobs, Executive Director of Albemarle Home Improvement Program, about the home rehab and emergency repair work the non-profit organization has been doing in Charlottesville and Albemarle County for over 40 years, and you’ll hear words like “cause” and “mission.” “There is a lot of talk and energy around affordable housing right now,” Jacobs says. “We want to make sure that as many people as possible know our mission.” Kimberly Carter in Crozet knows. Carter was living in the home she was born in 37 years ago, taking care of her mother and expecting a new baby when she realized she couldn’t put off the multiple serious repairs her home needed. Working part-time at a childcare center, Carter couldn’t begin to afford . . . well, let her tell it.

“The floors in both of our bathrooms were rotting and very weak. The birds had kind of dug a hole in the ceiling. Some of the siding was rotten and falling apart. There was a leak in the roof; we have paneling on the inside of our house and water must have gotten inside of it and kind of busted it out. Both the front and back porch were rotten, and the storm doors were rotten. Our range was broken, only the stovetop was working.” Carter’s home needed, she says now, “just a little bit of everything.” “Finally, when the birds started trying to come into the house,” she remembers, “I was like, ‘OK, this is it. I feel like I should start calling AHIP because now Brooklyn [her daughter] is coming and we can’t have a dangerous house.’” Carter’s was hardly a rare situation, so she had to wait a bit. AHIP helped 148 families last year, and has served over

3,000 since 1976, and funding lags behind need. But in 2017, AHIP’s crews began working on her house. And they still are. This month they replaced the lining in her chimney. Electricians replaced sockets that weren’t up to code, as well as light switches and a ceiling fan. “The three project areas we work in are emergency repairs, rehabs and energy efficiency upgrades,” Jacobs says. “Emergency repairs are the most voluminous. In terms of cost, the rehabs demand more resources, because we’re doing more work for each family that we help. Energy efficiency upgrades are often woven into the rehabs, so most of those rehabs are also energy efficiency upgrades in some part. So far this year we’ve done 36 rehabs in the City and the County, and for emergency repairs we’ll do 59 in Albemarle and 48 in Charlottesville.” AHIP’s Block-by-Block program focuses this work on neighborhoods and

subsections of neighborhoods, revitalizing and protecting them, keeping families safe and preserving the affordable housing stock. “We started with the 10th and Page neighborhood,” Jacobs says. “We did 41 rehabs there over the course of about four years, and then we moved on to the Orangedale and Prospect neighborhoods in the City, and right now we’re working in Belmont. I think we will have done seven there this year. Orangedale is largely done.” AHIP can do all this because they’re a Class A contractor and an EPA-certified renovator, with their own crew to carry out most of the work. HVAC repair and replacement, and energy upgrade insulation projects are contracted out. Volunteers from groups including the Blue Ridge Homebuilders Association and the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors (CAAR) come out on volunteer days to take on tasks like painting, building ramps, and laying flooring. “The real estate community understands the importance of the work we do,” Jacobs says, “from a practical, wealth building standpoint, from an emotional standpoint, and from a safety and security standpoint. They get it. So they have been just incredible allies and champions of this work in terms of donations, and in terms of volunteers for events. “I can’t imagine AHIP without having a partnership with CAAR. It’s been integral to our success in raising our profile in the community which has enabled us to garner more support, which keeps us going.” When Rachel Foster came to Charlottesville three years ago and began managing a local office for Long & Foster Real Estate, she looked for a volunteer opportunity that complement-