Archived Story

Vision 2020 discussing improvements for NE

Published 10:33am Friday, March 22, 2013

With a bit of pride and spirit, one Austin neighborhood will get a few home improvements this summer.

Vision 2020’s Community Pride & Spirit Committee is calling for volunteers to help spruce up homes at the 900 and 1000 block of Second, Third and Fourth avenues Northeast this summer.

The project aims to improve owner-occupied homes by performing exterior repairs, all in an effort to beautify Austin, according to Laura Helle, Vision 2020’s director of creative vision.

“Our approach is to interview each homeowner individually and find out what their needs are,” Helle said.

Of about 18 eligible homes, only three homeowners have come forward thus far, Helle said. Though Vision 2020 sent letters to eligible homes, Helle suspects some homeowners think the idea is too good to be true.

That’s why Vision 2020 is publicly partnering with the Mower County Habitat for Humanity to organize the effort. Volunteers and homeowners should contact Habitat for Humanity at 507-433-1349 by April 1.

There’s no set date to start projects, as homeowners will have to work with organizers to find out what can be done. Helle said some homes will qualify for low-interest loans through the Austin Housing and Redevelopment Authority or through Habitat for Humanity. Other homeowners, however, may have the money for repairs but don’t know how to go about getting their homes fixed.

That’s what the upcoming neighborhood cleanup is for, according to Helle. Some of the work will likely be done free of charge on a case-by-case basis, but the biggest thing is to connect homeowners with the help they need.

This summer’s neighborhood cleanup may serve as a model for future efforts. Vision 2020 organizers want to expand the initiative to more neighborhoods next year, so as many houses as possible can have exterior repairs done by 2020.

“Like many of the other things we’re doing, we’re flying the plane as we build it,” Helle said. “We’d really like to see this spread.”

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