Creating Affordable Housing In Silicon Valley Isn’t Just About Building New Housing
Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley Executive Director Bev Jackson does not build houses, but she and her army of volunteers have played a significant part in maintaining affordable housing. Her organization helps with house repairs to keep low-income residents in their homes.
“We’re preserving existing housing stock as opposed to building new,” she said.
On Rebuilding Days during the fall and spring, 700 to 1,000 volunteers fix homes that have fallen into disrepair or add features to make someone’s home more accessible. Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley partners with contractors and subcontractors and the organization has a critical need for more subcontractors and sponsors for its upcoming Rebuilding Day on Oct. 28.
It has been tough for the organization to recruit subcontractors because it is competing with massive remodeling projects. Jackson said volunteering at her organization can provide junior contractors an opportunity to lead a project or can provide senior managers another way to build teamwork while also helping change someone’s life.
“People are property rich, but not cash rich and are not able to do the repairs,” Jackson said.
Many of its clients are seniors and people with disabilities.
“Because these are seniors, at one point they were able to afford repairs or had two incomes, but their income has not kept up with medical care and housing repair needs,” Jackson said.
The organization helps people age in place, Jackson said. A home addition can be as simple as a $50 grab bar to prevent hip fractures and premature institutionalization. It also gives residents additional independence because they can shower without needing assistance.
One home repair that has stayed with Jackson: Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley fixed a broken lock on a woman’s front door. The woman had not been sleeping through the night because she did not feel secure with a door that would not lock.
The nonprofit serves the homeowner, the volunteers who feel they have had an impact on their community, and the community and neighborhood by cleaning up potential eyesores.
Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley is not solely helping seniors and people with disabilities. It has worked with the 49ers to repair the Morgan Autism Center and added a serenity garden to an Alzheimer’s senior center. The organization recently repaired mobile homes damaged by floods in San Jose.
To help repair those homes, Google provided $100K to help homeowners who did not have flood insurance. Often Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars take a while to come in, but repairs need to be done sooner, according to Jackson. The organization fixed HVAC systems and a lot of flood damage underneath the homes.