Piedmont Housing Alliance partners with several area nonprofits to bring enriching support to our client families. Albemarle Housing Improvement Program is one of those partners, working in tandem with Piedmont Housing Alliance to keep local families in need safe at home. We asked Jennifer Jacobs, executive director at AHIP to share information with us about the program and how collaborating with Piedmont Housing Alliance works.
Improving Homes, Preserving Neighborhoods with AHIP
By Jennifer Jacobs, AHIP Executive Director
From the moment Brian and Veronica’s feet hit the floor in the morning, they are on the go. Their home in Gordonsville is bustling with a blended family of 11 children (ages 1 to 17) while they juggle jobs to try to get them by to the next paycheck. AHIP first met the family in 2016 when the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District referred them to us for a failing septic system, and we installed a new waste water treatment system through our Emergency Repair Program. While we were on that project, Brian and Veronica expressed concerns about other hazards and deficiencies in their home, including windows, doors, and lack of insulation. We put them on our waiting list, and now we are working to combine private funding, public money, and volunteers to make this rehab move forward.
AHIP sets out to help local families renew their homes, protect their assets, live more affordably, and revitalize and preserve their neighborhoods. We are the only year-round effort providing critical home repairs to low-income neighbors in need. Together with our champions last year, AHIP helped 266 people in 123 households with 217 repairs and energy upgrades. The need for our services remains high, with 10 – 15 calls coming in every week from residents who cannot afford to make basic home fixes and therefore compromise their safety and well-being.
We are rewarded regularly with grateful messages from our clients, like this one left by Tom James for one of our rehab specialists: “I was calling to thank you so much for what AHIP has done for us. It was a pleasure not to have to walk downstairs and freeze and try to turn on all the electric heaters. The caliber of work, the equipment that was put in place, the job you all do, I greatly appreciate everything you did. My family thanks you, and I thank you.”
How does AHIP Help Homeowners?
Thanks to our donors, volunteers, program and business partners, and housing advocates, AHIP has been serving the Charlottesville and Albemarle County community since 1976 addressing dangerous housing deficiencies and hazards. Our work for seniors, families with kids, people with disabilities, and other hard-working local residents ensures that the basic, unfancy things about a home that most of us take for granted get taken care of—roofs, water lines, insulation, paint, handicap ramps, gutters, floors, energy-efficient systems, and dozens of other home repair, renovation tasks, and energy-efficiency upgrades.
What services does AHIP provide?
AHIP is a full-service, state-licensed Class A Contractor and state- and EPA-licensed lead abatement contractor. Our rehab staff includes three construction crews, estimators, and project managers, and we also utilize local subcontractors and purchase supplies and materials from local supply houses.
We focus on small, urgent home repairs to keep occupants safe as well as more comprehensive home rehabilitations that address a number of repair needs at once, including a home’s outdated or failing plumbing, electrical, and septic systems, and/or foundation and structural issues. In 2011, AHIP began collaborating with LEAP to install energy retrofits that make a home more comfortable while controlling heating and cooling costs.
How do AHIP and Piedmont Housing Alliance partner to improve the community?
AHIP’s work often overlaps and complements Piedmont Housing Alliance’s efforts in the local affordable housing landscape. AHIP and Piedmont Housing Alliance teamed up in 2015 to boost Piedmont Housing Alliance’s effort to build homeownership in the Orangedale and Prospect neighborhoods. While in the midst of our Block-by-Block neighborhood rehab initiative in Orangedale and Prospect, Piedmont Housing Alliance asked if we would be able to carry out rehab work for new homebuyers there. We jumped at the chance. City funds through Piedmont Housing Alliance allow us to use up to $12,500 per rehab—critical in helping new homeowners get ahead of crucial repairs, boost affordability, and help keep them safe at home for the long-term. So far, two first-time homeowners have purchased Orangedale homes and received much-needed repairs—rehab work for a third family is underway now.
AHIP and Piedmont Housing Alliance also are working side by side, along with other local housing organizations, in launching the Charlottesville-Albemarle Affordable Housing Coalition. CHAAHC seeks to advocate for low-income families, work with city and county governments to build good policies and fruitful projects, create strategic and multidisciplinary community partnerships, provide housing resources and data, and establish a “navigational hub” for those seeking housing help.
How do I get involved?
Volunteers are always needed on AHIP projects—no construction experience necessary!—and private donors are often the key to successful emergency repairs and rehab projects. Sign up to volunteer and donate on our website or send us a message on Facebook. Thank you.