Habitat for Humanity plans fewer new construction projects
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- The Indian River County chapter for Habitat for Humanity will continue with their mission to serve families in the 2013-14 year, but the primary method of doing so will not be building new homes.
Andy Bowler, president and CEO of Indian River Habitat for Humanity, announced last month instead of focusing on new home construction, the organization will focus primarily on rehabbing foreclosed homes and home-repair in owner-occupied homes in Gifford, and have set a schedule to help even more families this coming year than this past year.
The change is partially due to funding source redirecting focus from new home construction to home rehabilitation, Mr. Bowler said.
"We are the foreclosure capital here in Florida," Mr. Bowler said.
During the past 22 years, the nonprofit has built 303 homes, completed 55 repair projects and 40 rehab projects, helping a total of 398 families.
For the past few years, the nonprofit has been slowly adjusting the ratio of new construction and home rehabilitation, Mr. Bowler said.
In the 2013 fiscal year, Indian River Habitat built 21 new homes, 11 rehabilitation projects and 18 repair projects, but in the 2014 year, the organization will work on 11 new homes and rehab 24 homes, a press release said.
Repair projects will be up slightly, from 18 in 2013 to 20 in 2014.
With rehab homes, no two structures are the same. One house may need some landscaping and painting, while another may need new walls, wiring, flooring and more, Mr. Bowler said.
There are about 20 houses in the south county area that Indian River Habitat was charged with rehabilitating by Indian River County, with about $1.3 million funding the project, he said.
New home construction will get off to a big start in December once a lot of the part-time residents are back and able to help, but a couple houses in Fellsmere that already have roofs will be slowly worked on starting in September.
The strategic refocus to help homeowners and potential homeowners in Indian River County will be a win for someone needing an affordable home, a win for the community in that foreclosed houses will no longer be an eyesore and a win for the county by getting a new homeowner that will contribute to society by paying property taxes, Mr. Bowler said
For more information about Indian River Habitat for Humanity, visit www.irchabitat.org.