Agency Considers A Different Program with Habitat for Humanity, Postpones Affordable Housing Project

Temple City exploring “A Brush with Kindness,” a home rehabilitation program

Written by RANDY SHUN / Published February 19, 2010 (ONLINE ONLY)

Temple City will apparently not be working with Habitat for Humanity on building affordable housing units any time soon; instead, the City will look into a housing rehabilitation program with the non-profit organization.

Acting as the Community Development and Housing Authority (CDHA), the City Council asked staff to redirect its focus toward another program, “A Brush with Kindness,” during the October 20, 2009 meeting.

Vincent Yu, mayor pro tempore and vice-chairman of the CDHA, made the suggestion to postpone discussion on a potential affordable housing project with Habitat for Humanity because he felt the City was already engaging in many projects at the moment.

“I think we’ve been hearing some very, very exciting reports from staff,” Yu said. “On the appropriate site for the housing affordable housing project…I would actually like to table that until we can settle down a bit.”

His colleagues, including councilmember Cynthia Sternquist, the leading sponsor and proponent of a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, agreed.

A Brush with Kindness is one of a few programs sponsored by Habitat for Humanity.

The San Gabriel Valley affiliate of the non-profit organization is currently in the process of testing out the program; Temple City would be the first city in the region to incorporate A Brush with Kindness.

What the program offers is exterior improvements to an existing home, such as painting and repairing roofs, at a low cost. The City could collaborate with Habitat by providing the funds to operate the program, and in return, the community and homeowners will have attractive homes to showcase.

“Staff’s understanding is that a qualified family (of moderate of low income) would apply for certain exterior improvements to their residence and those improvements would be coordinate by Habitat for Humanity, “ community development manager Joseph Lambert wrote in a memo to the CDHA, “thus, creating an attractive home for the community and homeowner in need.”

A partnership with Habitat for Humanity would add to the number of home rehabilitation currently available to select Temple City residents.

Temple City now offers two other home rehabilitation programs: the Handyworker Grant Program and the Home Improvement Loan.

Funded by Community Development Block Grants and Community Redevelopment Agency funds, the Handworker Grant Program offers a grant of up to $10,000. But, only families who make up to 120 percent of the median income qualify.

Alternatively, the Home Improvement Loan offers a loan of up to $25,000 to households who earn up to 80 percent of the median income. The loan is paid for by Community Development Block Grants.

Damien Allen, director of corporate and community sponsors for Habitat for Humanity, was again present Tuesday evening to explain A Brush with Kindness and answer questions councilmembers had.

When asked by councilmember Yu how families were selected for A Brush with Kindness, Allen noted that applicants, like the affordable housing project with Habitat for Humanity, would be chosen by a Family Selection Committee.

The Family Selection Committee will consider an applicant’s financial criteria and willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity.

For example, applicants will be required to provide “sweat equity” and will be judged as to whether they can be a good advocate for A Brush with Kindness.

Lastly, applicants will be ranked based on need.

“We’re looking forward to partnering with Temple City,” Allen said. “We find a great opportunity to benefit not only for the City’s fiftieth anniversary, but also for Habitat for Humanity’s twentieth anniversary in the San Gabriel Valley.”

Before discussing A Brush with Kindness, city councilmembers also heard a report from community development manager Lambert.

Three possible locations for an affordable housing project with Habitat for Humanity have been found, Lambert stated. The potential project sites include the Primrose and Woodruff properties, a commercial site on East Broadway, and a triangular area formed by Temple City Boulevard, North Ellis Lane, and Azusa Avenue.

Choose “a site that could accommodate multiple units,” the community development manager recommended.

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