Vision 2020: CHIP looking to expand efforts in 2016

By Greg Siems

Vision 2020 director

Ten inches of snow is not exactly a welcome sight during the first week of spring, but warmer weather is thankfully just around the corner. For many of us, this means it’s also time to start thinking about the much needed updates and repairs around the house that were put off during the long winter months.

All homes require regular maintenance to remain safe and comfortable, but for some homeowners the needed repairs are either too daunting to tackle alone or too expensive to pay others to get done. To help address these challenges, the Vision 2020 Community Pride and Spirit committee launched the Community Home Improvement Program (CHIP). The program is run in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the Austin HRA, and it helps reduce the costs of external home improvement projects for those in need.

Here’s how it works: CHIP volunteers provide up to 50 percent of the labor hours necessary to complete a project, which is matched by the homeowners. Homeowners pay for their own materials, but may be eligible for grants or low interest loans. In the end, homeowners must commit to stay in the home for several years or can choose to pay back the investment made by others on their behalf. Whatever the project, the work leads to safer, more comfortable, and more valuable homes, which is a great thing for individuals, neighborhoods, and the community as a whole.

CHIP has grown every year since it started in 2013, and is looking to pick up the pace even more in 2016. Volunteers have helped 40 homes to date, and they have set a goal of 30 more for this year alone. Previous years have targeted specific neighborhoods, but this will be the first year the program is offered throughout the entire city of Austin. CHIP is also looking to reach out to veterans in particular, if you or someone you know has served our country and could use a hand with their home.

If CHIP sounds like something you, a friend, neighbor, or family member could benefit from, you can contact Brent Johnson, the Community Development Coordinator for Freeborn/Mower Habitat for Humanity. Once you get in touch with Brent, he will provide you with more information and see if the home or project will qualify. He can be reached at 507-433-1349 (ext. 2) or community@habitatfreebornmower.org.

If you, your business, or service club would like to volunteer on the projects, Brent can point you in the right direction there as well. There will be three week-long events to get the work done: June 27-July 2, August 1-6, and September 19-24. Any support, whether it is time, money, or supplies, is greatly appreciated. Together we can all help change our community, one home at a time.

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