Local agencies often explore what their community needs most, and how to advocate for the biggest impact. The New River Community Action board ranks the most difficult challenges citizens of our county face through a yearly ‘needs assessment.’ Employment is consistently at the top of the list, followed by housing, transportation, medical services, child care, etc. Sometimes there are shifts in ranking amongst the needs, and in some years they remain the same. But during the 2017 January board meeting, a sympathetic group of community members decided to create a community dialogue which hopes to improve upon the affordable housing conditions in Floyd County.
On March 1, 2017, we reached out to our community and had our first meeting. Representatives from USDA, Habitat for Humanity, HUD, NRV Home Consortium, New River Valley Regional Commission, Church leaders, Town and County administrators, Social Services, New River Community Action, Plenty!, construction folks, and just plain concerned citizens attended. We decided to join forces by forming an organization. Our mission: “’to create opportunities for families and individuals for safe, accessible, affordable housing for low-income residents in Floyd Co. through partnerships with the faith-based community, business leaders, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and individuals.” And FISH was hatched! Floyd Initiative for Safe Housing
Identifying our interests and expertise amongst those at the meetings gave birth to three areas of concentration for FISH:
- Repair work for those individuals or families in need of dry, safe and warm housing
- Educating our community on our housing needs and lack of affordable housing (e.g., did you know we have 847 households that spend more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities?)
- Planning for future affordable housing for Floyd County.
These three distinctive groups have been working together ever since our initial meeting. Each consortium has been steadfast in developing a greater understanding of Floyd’s housing obstacles.During the past 18 months, our home repair committee has identified homes in Floyd County, based on referrals from the Department of Social Services and New River Community Action. Each home was assessed to be unsafe and partly unlivable, determined from on-site visits. Our goals were to have each job cost $1000 in materials or less, to be completable in two days or less, and to have each restoration make a significant impact on the safety and livability of the home. The following are examples of the homes we helped during 2017:
- Project #1 helped a single mother with three children who were living in a trailer. Our volunteers replaced exterior doors, a stove, exhaust fan, kitchen cabinet with new countertop and working drawers, and repaired rotted subfloor in the entryway and under the kitchen sink.
- Project #2 helped a disabled gentleman replace his badly leaking roof. Our team worked to install a new metal roof, patch up interior ceiling problems, covered up exposed electrical wires, cleaned siding and refurbished a slippery back porch.
- Project #3 enabled an older gentleman to remain in his home and continue to live on his own. While being confined to a motorized chair, this man did not have a secure ramp to get in and out of his homeplace. We installed a permanent ramp, chair height toilet with handrails, and replaced his storm door.
Each of our chosen 2017 projects brought new challenges to our workforce, but one thing was strongly felt by everyone involved – families and volunteers all experienced a renewed faith in the goodness of others. For 2018 our goal is to help 8 homes. We have already completed repairs for 5 households. For more information, click here. If you are interested in volunteering for our workdays, committees, and efforts please let us know by writing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to make a donation, perhaps sponsor a home repair? Send checks directly to Habitat for Humanity,1675 N Franklin ST. Christiansburg 24073 Please indicate on your check Floyd FISH or Floyd Repairs projects.