Habitat for Humanity Repair Corps

Huber Heights, OH (population 38,101)

Project type: Private financing

Project contact:
Diane Graham, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Dayton, dgraham@daytonhabitat.org

Located next to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Huber Heights, OH is part of the Dayton metropolitan area. The proximity to the base results in the city’s population having a higher proportion of veterans than the state as a whole. 12.2% of Huber Heights residents are veterans compared to the state’s 7.7%.

In November 2011, the Habitat for Humanity in Dayton, OH (HFH-Dayton) participated in Repair Corps, a pilot partnership between Habitat for Humanity and the Home Depot Foundation aiming to help rehabilitate housing for disabled veterans in need. Traditionally, Habitat affiliates focus exclusively on new home construction. However, the direct financial assistance offered by the Home Depot Foundation encouraged HFH-Dayton leaders to work on a rehabilitation/modification project and explore the potential for adding this type of activity on an on-going basis to the organization’s efforts.

After deciding to participate in the program, Habitat leaders were faced with the prospect of identifying a veteran in need. Habitat for Humanity reached out to the Dayton VA medical center’s social service department. Social workers identified a 16-year Air Force veteran with two children who had a consistent need to use a wheelchair. Despite her regular need for assistance, there were times when she was able to be mobile without a wheelchair. The lack of a permanent need for mobility assistance prevented her from meeting the eligibility guidelines for programs traditionally used to make a veteran’s home fully accessible.

HFH-Dayton worked with the veteran to identify the modifications her home would need in order to help make the structure more accessible. After reviewing the property and talking with the veteran and her family, it was determined that the most helpful modifications would be to lower the kitchen cabinets, install an internal chair lift and shore up the home’s back porch with a new corner post. The installation of the chair lift was contracted to a local vendor to ensure a repair and maintenance warranty could be purchased. Four volunteers who work regularly with HFH-Dayton agreed to take on the other aspects of the project and the organization’s AmeriCorp member managed the project.

Given the project’s limited scope of work and that the project was a pilot effort, HFH-Dayton did not actively seek partnerships with outside entities such as other non-profit organizations or the city. HFH-Dayton’s work at the property did not require any electrical or structural work, so no permits were required and there were no permitting or inspection problems encountered by the contractor installing the chair lift.

In April 2012, all aspects of the project were complete. Given the project’s success and the need that exists among veterans in the community, HFH-Dayton’s leadership concluded that permanently expanding the organization’s work into rehabilitation/modification was viable and important. Moving forward, HFH-Dayton’s work with veterans has the potential to be enhanced through partnerships with area municipalities. Their work can be an important model to show how city leaders can best support private efforts to modify and/or rehabilitate the housing of all veterans with disabilities, regardless of their eligibility for existing VA programs.

For more information about how your city can help meet the housing needs of disabled veterans, contact Elisha Harig-Blaine at harig-blaine@nlc.org.