By now, you're probably familiar with scenes of energetic volunteers learning how to hammer, new one-story homes rising up in mere weeks, and first-time homeowners receiving keys. It's all due to the work of Habitat for Humanity, the international nonprofit organization dedicated to building simple, affordable houses for families in need.
What you may not know, however, is that some Habitat affiliates are augmenting the traditional 'new build' model with rehabilitations and renovations -- and along the way, doing preservation as well.
Take, for example, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh. Located 60 miles north of New York City along the Hudson River, this affiliate has acquired dozens of abandoned homes from the City of Newburgh and turned them around with the help of thousands of volunteers. (For the full story, check out their case study featured in the National Trust's Habitat for Humanity Preservation Toolkit.)
This approach not only takes advantage of the city's available housing stock, but it also retains the character and history of the community -- a perfect dovetail to Habitat International's Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which expands the organization's products, services, and partnerships to serve more families and better tailor solutions to each community's needs.
Of course, there are a lot of lessons learned along the way, and Newburgh has stockpiled some excellent advice on how to make rehabs work in other communities. In this video, Habitat Newburgh staffers and volunteers share their top tips:
We applaud Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh for their continued dedication to thoughtful rehabilitation, and hope they inspire other affiliates around the country to investigate if rehabs can support their local efforts too.
For more case studies and information, please visit the Habitat for Humanity Preservation Toolkit.
Julia Rocchi is an Online Content Provider for the National Trust's Digital + New Media team. She thinks that the opportunity to film this amazing project was totally worth getting stuck in a snowstorm on the way home.
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