Leaders in the world of nonprofit home repair announced the rebranding of the ReFrame Association as the Coalition for Home Repair at its annual conference today.
This marks a new chapter for this agency that has grown rapidly since its formation a decade ago as a way to advocate and share best practices in the effort to create safer, healthier homes across the country, said Becca Davis, the group’s executive director and one of its founders.
“It is more efficient to repair a home than to build a new affordable unit,” she said. “Repairs are an effective and sustainable solution for our country’s housing shortage.”
And it comes at a time when almost all parts of the nation are facing an affordable housing shortage. Housing is considered affordable when it costs less than 30% of residents’ monthly income. This includes rent or mortgage payments, insurance, utilities, property taxes and home repairs and maintenance. The pandemic has exacerbated the affordable housing crisis. Approximately 10.7 million people are behind on their rent and 10 million people have overdue mortgage payments.
The Coalition for Home Repair’s work is important because it helps people stay in homes instead of losing them and trying to find new shelter in a world where costs are exploding. Almost nine million low-income renter households have significant repair needs, and 6.6 million low-income homeowner households are in need of home repair.
“Building new homes won’t solve the problem. For every affordable housing unit that is built, two others are lost to abandonment, deterioration, or conversion to more expensive housing,” Davis said.
Coalition members repaired approximately 38,000 homes for 89,000 low-income people in 38 states in the last five years. With the help of 306,000 volunteers serving 7.8 million hours through the 85 member organizations, more than 71,000 projects were completed such as roof repairs, accessibility modifications, weatherization, room additions, plumbing and electrical repairs.
“There is a severe shortage of affordable homes in the United States. People in low-income households have to compete with higher-income households for the limited number of affordable homes available for purchase and rent,” said Dan Sargent, the chair of the Coalition’s board as well as the Executive Director of Rebuilding Together of the Triangle.
The Coalition began as a conference of like-minded organizations seeking ways to share wisdom, resources, and best practices within the nonprofit home repair and rehabilitation community. Out of that conference was born an association dedicated to a year-round approach with a powerful reach to bring together organizations from across the country to make a stronger and more strategic effort to help eliminate substandard housing.
Some of Coalition for Home Repair’s successes and programs include:
- Funding for Tools & Building Materials: Distributed $99,000 in Lowe’s gift cards to members in Spring 2021 to help off-set the high cost of building materials.
- Disaster Recovery: Distributed $15,500 in Fall 2021 to members repairing homes impacted by disasters.
- Cooperative Grants: Work with members to apply for grants that can benefit multiple organizations. It funded anti-racism consultations for members, thanks to the East Tennessee Foundation. It also funded half of the staff time for members participating in a Construction Workforce Development Cohort, thanks to the Appalachian Regional Commission.
- Annual Conference: Approximately 150 people gather each November in Kingsport, Tennessee (and now also online) to learn from expert speakers – both from within the membership and from their respective fields – about best practices in construction, fundraising, volunteer management, and more.
- Affinity Groups: Like-minded members gather virtually on a regular basis to share best practices. The current groups are: Anti-Racism Community of Practice, Faith-Based Affinity Group, Healthy Homes Affinity Group, and Camp-Model Roundtable. Members participate for free.
- Webinars: Free monthly webinars are available to members on topics related to repair methods and materials, volunteer management, fundraising, program development, board governance, self-care, and more.
Coalition leadership stressed these were all part of a bigger puzzle that revolves around community building. Home repairs are an effective way to address crime through non–police interventions, according to the University of Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia, home repairs resulted in a 21.9% reduction in total crime, and the number of units repaired directly correlated with decreased crime.
Investing in repairs can also prevent homes from falling into severe disrepair, lessening the risk of property abandonment that can lead to overall community decline, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“When a low-income home is renovated, the property value increases which benefits the entire neighborhood. Repairing homes is the key to restoring vibrant communities nationwide,” Sargent said.
Davis said home repairs are an important solution to the affordable housing crisis and we can address the need more effectively and efficiently together. Through the Coalition, nonprofits, businesses, governments, and individuals partner on projects that improve lives and restore communities.
“We are creating a bigger umbrella for organizations that are focused on improving housing quality across the country,” Davis said. “We are excited about our future and hope we can help our members keep growing and serving.”
About the Coalition for Home Repair
With more than 85 members nationwide, the Coalition for Home Repair is dedicated to bringing together organizations from across the country to share wisdom, resources, and best practices within the nonprofit home repair and rehabilitation community. The Coalition for Home Repair promotes the preservation of safe, healthy, affordable housing for all by supporting the work of home repair and rehabilitation partners nationwide. Learn more about the Coalition’s impact and view a directory of member organizations at CoalitionForHomeRepair.org.