Meet Your Nonprofit - AHIP - Albemarle Housing Improvement Program

Describe your nonprofit’s mission.
AHIP’s mission is to ensure safe, affordable homes for our neighbors in need. For 40 years, our singular goal has been to help families and individuals in need stay safe at home. Too many of our neighbors struggle with failing roofs, lack of heat, failed wells and septic systems, faulty plumbing, dangerous electrical systems, unsafe structures, peeling paint, dilapidated kitchens and bathrooms, mold, hazardous steps, lack of insulation, and broken windows and doors.

AHIP helps extremely low- to low-income homeowners with small, urgent repairs; larger renovations; and cost-saving energy improvements. Our crews, subcontractors, and volunteers work year-round in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, serving retirees, working people, disabled individuals, and families with children who do not have the ability to take action on their own when things go terribly wrong with their houses.

What need in our community brought about the creation of your nonprofit?
AHIP was created in response to poor and unsafe housing conditions for low-wealth families in Albemarle County following a community-wide volunteer effort to clean up the debris left by Hurricane Camille in 1969. After officially becoming a 501(c)(3) in 1976, AHIP set on a path to continue responding to homeowners in need in the county and the city. Forty years later, there is a persistent, increasing local need for our home repair services, and we aim to keep as many people safe at home as possible given our limited resources. Right now there are at least 500 families waiting for help.

Greater Charlottesville is a high-cost area of the state, with almost 28 percent of City residents living below the poverty line, and with more than 10,000 extremely to very low-income households considered “cost-burdened” (paying more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing). The bustling real estate market, which has recently picked up significant steam, limits options for low-income families and makes it even more urgent that we help them keep the homes they have.

The work AHIP does improves homes, preserves assets, revitalizes neighborhoods, and protects the affordable housing stock in our region—and, paramount to AHIP’s mission, ensures safe, affordable housing for all neighbors in need. For low-income homeowners, the ability to address outdated and dangerous electrical systems, barely functioning plumbing, broken furnaces, deteriorating kitchens, failing roofs, and crumbling floors is steadfastly out of reach. For low-income homeowners, the ability to stay in their existing affordable homes is critical.

How has your nonprofit made a difference in our community?
For families in our community whose lives are turned upside down when their furnace dies or their roof starts to leak uncontrollably, AHIP is the only organization working year-round to help. We receive three to five calls each week from residents in need—that number spikes during extreme weather.

Since 1976, AHIP has been there for 3,000 local families, or 7,000 grandfathers, single mothers, retired aunts, kindergartners and high schoolers, disabled neighbors and other hard-working people. Last year, 60 percent of the households that we helped were minorities; 53 percent were home to senior citizens; and 31 percent were home to children age 18 years and under. We helped 152 households total.

When clients respond to our satisfaction survey, we overwhelmingly hear comments like this one from Stephanie and Davey who live in the city “We didn’t have the money to repair our back porch, and we love our home and want it to look good. AHIP helped us save our house from other damage.”

Additionally, AHIP’s work supports the local economy. AHIP’s procurement of building materials, local subcontractor labor, supplies, and services injected more than $1.2 million into area businesses in FY16.

How can community members help you achieve your mission?
AHIP receives support in a variety of ways, from public-private partnerships and collaborations with other organizations to volunteers and donors.

Our robust volunteer program helps us stretch our resources and do more for each family we help. Volunteering on an AHIP project gives our participants first-hand knowledge of the direct impact being made in the lives of local neighbors in need. Last year we hosted 281 volunteers for a total of 2,524 volunteer hours. Incredible!

We also welcome volunteers to be part of several committees to plan and execute outreach events and develop ideas and strategies to continue building on our award-winning programs.

Getting involved with AHIP means that our supporters become agents of preservation—for both homes and entire neighborhoods. AHIP is the only organization focusing on stabilizing our communities and protecting the housing stock and the homeowners who live there.

Tell us a story that has come out of your work.
Rebecca was an AHIP client nine years ago. When we met her, she was raising three sons by herself, struggling to make ends meet, and living in an unsafe house that was failing her. It needed extensive repairs to make it right, and she simply did not have the resources to do it. She called AHIP.

In Rebecca’s words: “My sons and I were sleeping on the floor in the living room because it was so cold in the bedrooms. We did not have any hot water—I had to boil water on the stove to pour into the bathtub. The paint was peeling in the kitchen and the living room. We would try to plug something in or turn something on, and we’d get shocked. I didn’t know what we were going to do. It wasn’t safe. We weren’t safe.”

We ran into Rebecca again in the spring of 2015 when she presented AHIP with a $100 donation. Scrawled on the bill were the words: “Thank u for helping me too!” It was an incredible moment. Everyone at AHIP was humbled by her generosity and gratitude.

Rebecca said, “I was blessed that day with some extra money and what better thing to do than donate it to AHIP? I get emotional when I remember everything you guys did for me, and when I see AHIP signs around town, I smile, because I know that those families just don’t know what their house is about to become. If it weren’t for someone else donating to AHIP, I might still be in the same situation.”

“Without AHIP, we would have gotten colder. The house would have gotten more run down,” Rebecca told us.

But because of AHIP supporters, they didn’t get colder. Rebecca kept her house, raised her sons, and worked hard. And now, she is an enthusiastic AHIP donor in her own right.

Find out more about AHIP – Albemarle Housing Improvement Program

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