Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kaiser Permanente Volunteers Build with Habitat for Humanity in Honor of MLK Day of Service

I'd like to thank all the volunteers who gave a day to help us build hope, lives and communities in honor of Martin Luther King day. And thanks to Lana Peterson for sharing this post with us.

Volunteers from Kaiser Permanente Downey
This past weekend more than 50 Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center employees and doctors traded in their stethoscopes for shovels and hammers at two home sites in Lynwood to celebrate and perpetuate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.  
Many of the Kaiser Permanente Downey volunteers had no experience in refurbishing homes however, that didn’t stop them.  With the help of the Habitat for Humanity volunteers and staff, soon, they were ripping up roof tiles, laying a foundation for an room addition, building a cinder block wall and nailing in rafters and floorboards.  

When everyone gathered together for a much-deserved lunch, there was great camaraderie and conversation about the progress so far.  And after a heartfelt and emotional program, the volunteers rallied to finish the day at their respective sites.

At the end of the day, much progress had been made at both sites.  Even though the Kaiser Permanente Downey volunteers were tired, they all paused to reflect on the day.  

Some of the volunteers shared their thoughts with us:

What I enjoyed most about the Habitat build was being able come together with other like-minded people at Kaiser Permanente Downey and  work on a home for a great cause. After a long day of work, it was very gratifying to go home knowing that a family is one step closer to having a place they can call home. - Kelly Kim

It’s awesome to see people you work with, at different levels, come together and work side by side to help improve the community. - Shawn Pascale

The best part of the weekend was that no matter what skill level you may have, whether it was in carpentry, construction or demolition, everyone’s hard work and determination to do their best was all going towards a great cause.  At the end of the day, we were all able to walk away not only with new skill sets, but also with a sense of pride knowing that it will benefit someone like Laura. - Marissa Tachavit-Kim

You can see more photos from the build day here.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Harbor Freight Tools Opens Their Doors in Huntington Park and to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles!

Posted by Jessica Killeen, Gift In Kind Manager

On January 5th Harbor Freight Tools, the nation’s largest discount tool retailer, opened its 44th store in the state of California right here in Huntington Park.  Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles was chosen as the benefactor of the Grand Opening Ceremony, which included a generous donation of tools and building supplies.  As Gift in Kind Manager, I had the awesome opportunity to participate in this celebration with one of our Construction Project Managers, Darrell Simien. 
It was a lot of fun to check out the new store and to speak with members of their retail team who were, to their delight, already noticing ‘regular’ customers.  I also had the honor of meeting members of the Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who hosted the ribbon cutting ceremony and warmly welcomed Harbor Freight Tools to the neighborhood. 
Harbor Freight’s donation included a Pressure Washer, sledge hammers, tape measures  and over 150 additional items that will be put to great use by our volunteers, including Cornerstone Construction Training Graduates, and staff on build sites throughout Greater LA.  Material donations from generous businesses like Harbor Freight Tools greatly enhance our capacity to serve more hardworking, low-income families.  With a goal to build and renovate over 250 homes in a 3-year period, it goes without saying that HFH GLA will make the most of every in-kind contribution we receive.  Thank you to Harbor Freight Tools and to all of our Gift in Kind (GIK) Partners!  
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

White House Blog Quotes Our Own Chad Elbandagji

Chad Elbandagji is a Marine and Air Force Veteran who joined AmeriCorps with a willingness to continue serving here at home. He is now the AmeriCorps VISTA Veterans Outreach Coordinator at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (HFH GLA) and is engaging veterans in Habitat for Humanity's work through our Veterans Initiative.

While Chad was at AmeriCorps training he spoke about his role at HFH GLA as a veteran helping veterans and also participated in some media interviews. It was during this training, that Chad made an impression on John Gomperts, who recently wrote a post for the White House blog featuring a quote from Chad!

We are so proud of you, Chad, and the important work you are doing!

Read the post "AmeriCorps Recruiting Our Nation's Heroes" here.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

California Supreme Court Ends Redevelopment (RDA) and Wipes out a Significant Funding Source for Affordable Housing

Last week the California Supreme Court ended redevelopment (RDA) in California and, in the process, wiped out a significant funding source for Habitat for Humanity chapters in California and throughout the entire affordable housing community.  The court decision upheld the elimination of RDAs (AB X 26), while at the same time ruling against legislation that would have allowed RDA’s to reform by “opting-in” (AB X 27), after making payments to their local schools for one fiscal year. This court decision signifies an "end of an era".

Until recently, redevelopment remained the second largest funding source of affordable homes for Habitat for Humanity (HFH) affiliates in California after the federal government. More than 98,000 units of affordable housing have been constructed or rehabilitated through redevelopment since 1993. Habitat affiliates leveraged these funds with private donations to build and revitalize communities.  Without an established and secure alternative funding source, the net effect of this decision could be devastating for affordable housing, and the 49 independent Habitat for Humanity affiliates in California.  Habitat is obviously discouraged by the Court's findings because a Plan B does not exist for affordable housing funding in California.  We respect the decision and continue to sympathize with the choices that the Governor and the legislature have to make during these difficult fiscal times. Unfortunately, this ruling by the Supreme Court makes it even more difficult to provide affordable housing for low income residents if an alternative source is not identified quickly. 

Approximately 70% of Habitat for Humanity developments in Los Angeles have benefitted from the redevelopment dollars historically set aside for housing in the state. These public dollars are leveraged at a ratio of 5:1 with private donations from individuals, faith groups and corporate supporters who also donate volunteer labor to help build the homes. The public dollars are used to purchase land, pay for building permits and improve site infrastructure. Private dollars pay for the materials to build the actual homes. This decision means that our future work will be severely limited unless another source of funding can be identified.

Habitat for Humanity is reaching out to the Governor and his housing team to immediately explore and consider ALL means and resources as a permanent source of funding, reforms to decrease the costs for construction, and creative methods to incentivize sustainable building now and into the future.  We just hope that this can be done in a timely fashion and before every affordable home-builder closes their doors as a result of these unrecoverable losses in local agency funding.

Habitat for Humanity considers itself a partner with the Governor and his housing team.  Governor Brown has said that state government needs to focus on "essential services" and we agree. Other than food and water, there's nothing more "essential’ than shelter.  Habitat leaders will work with the Governor's office and state lawmakers to ensure that the elimination of redevelopment does not destroy the ability of many nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity from providing affordable housing options to California residents who need it most.  The need for affordable housing in California has never been as critical as it is right now.  We must find a way to ensure that all California residents have a safe and healthy home in which to raise their families. Please join us in urging our state legislators to find an alternative source of funding to provide necessary shelter to deserving Californians.

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