How Habitat is Improving Our Community

Just about anywhere around the world, you’ll find Habitat for Humanity International assisting people in need. Here in Rockford, Habitat for Humanity is taking the mission further with an unusual program that’s making a big difference with modest home improvements.

Last year, its debut of the Critical Home Repair Program helped 10 local families to make much-needed improvements they couldn’t otherwise afford to make to their homes. This program isn’t like a typical Habitat project, where volunteers and professionals work hand-in-hand to build a brand-new home for a family in need. Rather, it’s strictly about home repairs, says Keri Asevedo, executive director of Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity.

“If things exist like a crumbling staircase, non-functioning plumbing or anything that impedes the safety of the residents living there, we’ll help homeowners to get a healthy and safe house to live in,” Asevedo says.

In order to qualify for these critical home repairs, someone must own and live in the home, and they must have an income below 80% of the median income in Winnebago County – roughly $58,400 for a family of four.

So far, the response to Habitat for Humanity’s Critical Repair Program has been overwhelming. Asevedo says there’s a backlog of 120 requests, each of which Asevedo and her staff of 26 hopes to make their way through.

“At this moment, we’ve completed five home repairs with 70 to 80 ready to go,” she says.

While the Critical Repair Program is supported by grant funding, Habitat always welcomes additional funding. One avenue is through the group’s ReStore at 7141 Harrison Ave., in Rockford. It’s like a giant thrift store for home improvement and decor. The public is invited to donate old decor and other items, and everything is evaluated and then sold inside ReStore. Sales directly support Habitat initiatives.

Habitat for Humanity is changing lives in many ways, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.

“What we’ve learned is that the need in our community is great,” Asevedo says. “Together we can ensure that everyone in our city has a safe, healthy place to call home.” ❚