Powerful things are bound to happen when two giant non-profit organizations come together to address the needs of vulnerable populations. In this case, the collaboration is between Habitat for Humanity Choptank and Qlarant Foundation.
Habitat for Humanity, founded in 1976, is a non-profit organization that aims to build and improve homes for low-income families and individuals. The organization works to address the issue of affordable housing by building homes in partnership with families in need, who are then able to purchase these homes through a no-profit, no-interest mortgage. Habitat for Humanity operates locally, with individual affiliates in communities across the United States and over 70 countries worldwide.
The Qlarant Foundation is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for vulnerable populations in Maryland and the District of Columbia by investing in programs and initiatives that have a measurable impact on those lives. The Foundation provides funding and support to a wide range of organizations, such as health care providers, social service agencies, and educational institutions. It also supports research and educational initiatives that promote healthy aging, children’s health, and family stability.
Late last year, the Foundation awarded a $30,000 grant to Habitat’s Helping Hands Revolving Loan Fund. The money will be used for critical home repairs that help low to moderate-income homeowners maintain safe and healthy living conditions and prevent further deterioration of their homes. The program also focuses on accessibility modifications for the elderly and homeowners with disabilities to enable them to live safely and comfortably in their homes. This funding helps Habitat for Humanity purchase materials and hire contractors to complete maintenance.
Started in 2019, the Helping Hands Revolving Loan Fund program provides loans for repairs to homeowners who cannot borrow through traditional banking. These repairs may include fixing a leaking roof, removing mold from crawl spaces, repairing a broken furnace, etc.
“The program, says John Piposzar, Critical Home Repair Manager for Habitat, is how we fund and are able to do these repairs. The homeowners pay a percentage of the repairs, and they have to put in sweat equity, as well. This can range from actually helping with the repairs, if they’re able to, education, or assisting at other non-profits, such as helping out a soup kitchen, etc.”
One of the key benefits of the Repair program is that it helps families to maintain their independence, allowing them to stay in their homes and avoiding the need for more expensive and disruptive alternatives such as temporary housing or nursing homes. It also alleviates the physical threats and mental stress caused by living in poor conditions. Another advantage of the program is that by hiring local contractors, Habitat for Humanity is able to support the local economy.
Piposzar shared an example of one of their many success stories. “We helped an elderly woman who was below average in stature. We put in handrails at her height and constructed a walk-in shower because she couldn’t even step over the tub. We were able to give her the ability to stay in her home and be mobile and comfortable.”
The Qlarant money has been a welcome addition to the funds Habitat needs to do its work. Said, Piposzar, “We are hoping to do 10 to 15 houses, and so far, we’ve done around five.”
JoAnn Hansen, Habitat’s Executive Director, echoes the sentiment, “Many low and even moderate-income homeowners in our community are living in poorly built, aging homes with very few resources to make needed repairs. The connection between home and health and safety has never been greater. Qlarant’s recognition of this and their support for innovative ways that meet the needs of LMI families is critical to non-profits such as Habitat being able actually to do the work.”
People who are interested in the program are advised to fill out a questionnaire on the website (https://habitatchoptank.org/our-programs/home-repair/). A home visit will be set up to ensure the projects they need are within Habitat’s policy and scope.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity Choptank, to donate or volunteer, call 410-476-3204 or visit www.HabitatChoptank.org.
Val Cavalheri is a writer and photographer. She has written for various publications, including The Washington Post. Previously she served as the editor of several magazines, including Bliss and Virginia Woman. Although her camera is never far from her reach, Val retired her photography studio when she moved from Northern Virginia to the Eastern Shore a few years ago.. She and her husband, Wayne Gaiteri, have two children and one grandchild.