Episode 10: Jennifer Jacobs: Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP)
About This Episode
“Safe at Home” – with Jennifer Jacobs and Rachel Foster. Go With John as he chats with Jennifer Jacobs, the Executive Director for the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program. AHIP is a Virginia-based nonprofit that helps keep people in their homes by doing critical repairs. Rachel Foster joins us for part of the show, and shares how she became involved with AHIP, as well as what inspired her to support the nonprofit.
[00:00:08] There’s there’s a lot of coaching that goes into balance and being a complete person. And so what gets me out of bed in the morning is being able to interact with them in meaningful ways, being what is called a servant leader, rolling up my sleeves and walking the walk.
[00:00:32] You know, if we need to put stamps and and and mailing labels on envelopes, I get down and I do that, like, whatever it is that needs to get done, we get that work done. But in the midst of all of that, we get to know one another. We care about one another. And it speaks to our earlier conversation about the culture of long and foster overall, that we really are committed to being supportive of one another, being generous with our time.
[00:01:06] I’m really excited about this week’s episode. We have Jennifer Jacobs as well as Rachel Foster in the studio with us today. Jennifer is the executive director of AHIP and Rachel is a board member. AHIP is a Virginia based nonprofit that helps keep people in their homes when they may otherwise be rendered homeless because of emergency repairs that are needed. Our conversation is interesting and thought provoking, and I think you’ll enjoy it. I’m also proud to say that the Go with John show is giving back now through February 12th, 2021. We are going to partner with a for a community donation match. Your contribution will have double the impact to ensure your neighbors in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are safe at home through the emergency repairs and rehab programs. Please consider donating today to keep your neighbors safe, warm and dry. The Go With John Show is going to match the first 2500 dollars in donations that are made as a result of folks listening to this episode.
[00:02:20] Now onto the show.
[00:02:23] Jen Jacobs, welcome. Thank you for coming in. It’s nice to have you here. And we have Rachel Foster with us. Also, Rachel and I just finished chatting for about 45 minutes about her real estate career and her family and things like that. And we want to talk about AHIP today.
[00:02:40] So can you tell us what is AHIP and a little bit about what the organization does?
[00:02:47] Sure. So AHIP believes that everyone should be safe at home, and that is our main reason for being. So we believe that everybody should wake up in a house that doesn’t fail them. So that is they should get up and down the steps safely and and easily. They should have insulation. So they’re not cold in there. So their heating and cooling bills aren’t out of reach. They shouldn’t have exs on the floor where the kids aren’t allowed to step because they might fall through the heat. They should have cooling, you know, anything and everything that could go wrong with the house. We want to make sure that people have have that and we exist to make sure that they get that. So safety and health and stability, housing security is what we’re concerned about. And the other part of it is making sure that that families who own their houses are able to hold on to those houses and hold on and preserve their wealth and help to build their wealth. Right. Especially in an area. And if you’re in real estate, so you get this, you know, for for many low income people, it is impossible to break into the housing market. So a lot of the families that we help have inherited their their houses or they bought them very inexpensively or their parents bought them or built them. Right. Many, many years ago. And if and if they get tired of the house or there’s a fix that they’re just they can’t just say, you know what, I’m just going to go buy a new house somewhere. The the I looked up I was doing a grant proposal a couple of weeks ago and I looked up the newly a median sale price for a newly constructed home in Albemarle County. Last quarter was sixty six hundred sixty eight thousand dollars. Wow. And so the average income of the families that we help is between 30 and 40 thousand dollars a year. They can’t afford a well pump fix like they can’t afford an HVAC replacement or a septic. I mean, all of that takes up too large a share of their income. They just don’t have it. So there’s no way that they’re just going to go buy something new because they’re tired of their house or it’s getting too expensive. It makes total sense. And so our role is to make sure that the families who have faced extensive barriers and even getting those houses in the first place and don’t really have any other option, if they want to stay in that house, we exist to help them preserve that property and that wealth. And most of the families that we help, the wealth passes down. You know how it transfers. Right? And in the United States, that’s how most people build and preserve their wealth these days and pass it along and they can refinance and they have more control and they have more more power. And so we want to make sure that that is afforded to to people who happen to be low income and need them.
[00:05:27] Right. Fantastic. So let’s talk a little bit about what you guys do on the board. So we have Rachel here for the first part of our episode today. So how did you get how Rachel, how did you end up getting on the board? Was that through the agent advisory committee?
[00:05:42] No. So not through my office. I got to know Robbie Respetto when I first moved to town. And at the time she worked for AHIP. And I believe that she might have said to Jen, you know, hey, you’re looking to to bring people onto the board. Rachel would be somebody that you you might want to reach out to. Right. And I think, you know, they of course, they knew that we were involved in and working in the community on the different projects that AHIP has that they encourage realtors to be a part of. And Jen gave me a call.
[00:06:17] I met with a couple of the board members and Jen over lunch and and of course, she said no, she played hard to get the typical typical. Rachel, you missed the earlier story. And all the times I was like, no.
[00:06:31] Yeah, every every everything that people ask Rachel, do you get to know first? And you just have to work through it.
[00:06:36] You know, it’s funny, as I say sometimes that that’s true about my brother, right. That he’ll give you the no first. But apparently it’s also true about me. Yeah, that’s good. That’s going to be a character thing that I have to work on. I don’t know how how hard to get I played in this particular case. Yeah. They asked for my resumé and I sent that in.
[00:06:59] And then now that I’m on the board, I know that you know that that information is put in front of us as a board and we consider whether or not the person would be a good fit, would be a good ambassador for AHIP in the community. It would be helpful in raising funds or raising awareness or both. So. Oh, yeah, that that happened maybe August of twenty eighteen and I came on the board just before a big celebration that AHIP has done that they call the house party. That was a fundraising event. And I’ve been with the board now a little over two years.
[00:07:43] Great. So what happens in on the board when you’re the CEO of the company and Rachel you’re on the board? What does that mean for the folks listening? What does it mean to be on the board? What do you guys do in board meetings? I’m going to let Jen answer that.
[00:08:01] Well, you know, for for just in the spectrum of non-profits, you know, the board of directors will fulfill a little bit different roles depending on where an organization is in its lifecycle. So for a lot of volunteer driven organizations where they don’t have a professional staff, the board members are like working board members. So they’re the ones that are like stuffing the envelopes and doing the work. Fortunately for our board, we have a we have a one person staff, okay. And we’ve got all those roles filled. So in our organization, the board takes on more of a governance function. We have a policy board. They serve a guidance function for us. Help us make sure that we’re on track in terms of the direction of the organization, the vision of the organization, how we’re implementing the programs, making sure that we’re on the right track. So if we’re talking about, you know, say we’re having challenges in raising money in a certain area or doing a certain type of activity like small repairs versus large repairs, this is an example like if there are things to consider around that. Right. About 10 years ago, we may have been around for 44 years and we’ve done rehabbing to repair the entire time, but we’ve also done other things like first time homebuyer education and constructing new homes. And we got into the rental property business, multifamily rental in 2000, and we thought that that was the area we were going to go into. We thought we were going to pair that with the work we were doing and make that one of our business lines right. And when I joined, I was on staff before, but then I became executive director in 2009. We had this inflection point where we had to decide if we were going to actually go for it and do that work or if we were going to stay focused on rehab and repair. And so the board got together. And this is an example of one. Sure, it’s really good to have all that expertize and knowledge in the room to help the staff figure out what the best what the best path is. And so we decided and the board decided at that time that we were going to get out of the rental business, that there were lots of other organizations in town, both nonprofit and for profit, doing that work. But there was nobody else doing the rehab and repair and the the volume of calls that come into the organization for people that needing help. If we weren’t able to help them, there would be very few other options for them. Right. And so we felt that our calling in this world was to make sure that we’re available and well staffed and high performing to do that work. The challenges, funding it, because it’s not an easy activity to fund. There’s much more revenue on the property management and property development side than there is in rehab and repair. And so that’s something else that the board is helping us with, figuring out how we become more profitable and more sustainable so that we can continue to provide the service. But it’s a scrap like it’s not easy.
[00:10:51] Yeah, nothing is easy and especially charity work, because there’s so many people asking for something all the time. It’s always a challenge, I think, to to raise funds.
[00:11:00] So how many people on the board we have thirteen people on the board right now, OK. And we can go up to eighteen as what our bylaws say so about.
[00:11:08] Yeah. So yeah. So you have about eighteen on staff and then thirteen board members and then most of the board members, are they, are they all going out and doing, swinging a hammer, building ramps.
[00:11:21] No, Rachel is actually one of the few board members we have right now.
[00:11:25] I’m trying to think, I think because I’m not here to call anybody out, you know, everybody has their strengths and interests. I mean, everybody fills a role. I love our board.
[00:11:34] One of one of the, you know, truisms or, you know, stereotypes, I guess, like when you get a bunch of executive directors together, a nonprofit, inevitably they start to complain about the board, I’m sure. But I have found that when I’m in groups like that, I can’t like I don’t really have any there’s nothing really to complain about. They are so engaged and great to talk to. And I truly come away from whether it’s a committee meeting or a board meeting, like feeling much better about about the organization. Yeah. And so it’s energizing. And so that’s really good and it’s very rare. Yeah. But I think right now, Rachael, you’re the only one who is actually served in a vault like actually swung a hammer.
[00:12:11] Hasn’t always been the case, but currently. Yes. I’m just curious. I’m just trying to get the hard hat. Yeah. Right now. Yeah. Yeah that’s awesome. Good, good, good, good. Rachael just she’s also helped us raise.
[00:12:22] Raise. Funds like substantial funds, especially around the House party, and that’s one thing that, you know, I spend a lot of time talking about, you know, this work and why it’s important. And I spent a lot of time selling it and talking to people. And and it is so beautiful when I get to hear somebody else tell me why this work is important. Right. And sometimes I forget that other people think that, too. So one of the things that most impressed me about Rachel was when so she was on the board for that second house party. But you had actually spoken at the House party prior before she was involved with the board. She was new to town and and Long and Foster had had had given a very generous donation and sponsorship of the House party. And she got up to speak. And I was like, wow. Like we like, what organization is that? Like, it was really nice to hear, you know, Rachel, the way she described the importance of this work and why it was important to her when she did suggest as a board member, I was like, yeah, like it’s it’s one of the the most important feature of any board member that joins AHIP is that they are they’re passionate about this work and they believe as much as anybody. Why it why it’s critical for the community. And that and that really stood out in terms of what she was able how she describes the work of the fantastic.
[00:13:37] Yeah, well, Rachel, I think do you have anything you want to contribute to the conversation about AHIP?
[00:13:43] I know you got to run to another meeting, so I want to give you an opportunity to, you know, tell us how the charity fits into your life.
[00:13:53] I’m just hugely grateful for the opportunity to serve AHIP. I don’t know that I’m necessarily the best person to do it. I’m surrounded by people on that board who have experiences and and have lived in Charlottesville considerably longer than I have. So they have connections that I haven’t formed yet. But the opportunity to work with them, to see their hearts and why they show up and especially Jenn’s like to know what gets her out of bed in the morning. You and I talked about why, yes, I serve my agents. So she is so passionate about this work she cares about and the board does. And the people who work at a ship, we genuinely care about the people in Albemarle County. The idea that I can go home at night and I don’t have to worry about my roof leaking and I can put food on the table. And, you know, I don’t have to worry about whether or not I can pay my mortgage. I can’t lose sight of that. And the knowledge that many of our neighbors don’t have those same assurances can’t count on.
[00:15:06] I shared with John before you came in about the family that we built the wheelchair ramp for and a have also put the bedroom on the first floor right off of Fifth Street, that because they could no longer carry their daughter up to her bed, that I just don’t think most people go through their days and don’t think about how many people are out there who.
[00:15:36] They just need help making it through the day, the idea that they can’t heat or cool their home and you know, I have my heat on, I don’t know, 68 and it’s a little chilly in my house. And to think that there are people who don’t have heat. Wow. I don’t have solid we saw pictures at our last board meeting of some of the families that we are helping. And, you know, there are holes in the floors and holes in the ceiling where that where, you know, a leak has caused the ceiling to fall down. And they live like that because the option of getting it fixed doesn’t exist for so many until they pick up the phone and call a hub. So I am richly blessed to be able to serve with these people to see the work that they do, to see their hearts and how that plays out in this community. It is hard work, but it is something that that we are fully committed to.
[00:16:37] And it’s it is just such a blessing to be able to do it.
[00:16:42] You know, one of the interesting things is I spent a lot of time in Edinburg, Virginia, which is not too far from here, actually. It’s just as far from here to Edinburg as it is from here to Fairfax. So either way, it’s 90 minutes. But, you know, the people I think that need help are also very, very proud people. And I would assume the same is the case here. And they’re probably not eager to pick up the phone and ask for help.
[00:17:10] They’re not. And Jen can tell you stories about, you know, they’ve worked their entire lives for the University of Virginia. Yeah. And they they need AHIP’s help to stay in their homes, you know. And so I think picking up the phone, just taking that step has got to be extremely difficult. And I know that John has a lot of experiences that she can share with you that that tell those stories beautifully.
[00:17:38] Wonderful. And we’ll definitely going to get to that in the next segment. You know, one thing, one thing that comes to my mind going up and down 66, literally, sometimes two or three times in a day is all the wealth and all the excess that exists in northern Virginia. And how to get some of that wealth out to the suburbs of the rest of the state has been something I’ve struggled with really much of my life, even things like, you know, washers and dryers, people in Northern Virginia, when they move, they try to sell them.
[00:18:15] They can’t sell them, they can’t give them away. And they end up a perfectly good washer and dryer, goes to the the landfill or goes to recycling because nobody wants it. Everybody goes out and buys a new washer and dryer. But then you try to say, OK, well, why can’t we get some trucks and take these things out to Shenandoah County or Charlottesville or get them out to the suburbs and the cost of moving those things and storing them is cost prohibitive. You know, so it’s it’s just this really very interesting place to live on planet Earth, where you have so many people in the state of Virginia who are struggling and need help and there’s so much access up north. And I really don’t know what the answer is, but it’s I can see the challenge that you face with trying to get the materials and the things that that you need to help the folks out. So we’ll talk more about that. Maybe we can figure out a solution. So, Rachel, thank you for staying over and joining us in this beginning of this chat. And we wish you a wonderful day. And thanks again for coming in to talk to us.
[00:19:18] Thank you, John. It was my pleasure. And I know that you’re going to learn a lot from Jen over the next, you know, 30 or so minutes about AHIP. It truly is doing the most important work that I can think of in this area. And, yeah, it’s it’s good to know you, Jen, and great to see you again. Please give my love to your mom.
[00:19:41] I will. And the other folks up at the McLean office, I’ll say hi to everybody. Let them know I miss them. I will.
[00:19:48] And hopefully we can find a way to make some good happen out of this episode for AHIP.
[00:19:53] That would be great. Wonderful. Thanks, Rachel. Thank you. Thanks, Jen.
[00:20:02] I’m John Jorgenson, and if you want to learn more about buying a home or selling your existing home, contact us through the show. We work with an incredible network of professionals who can help you get through the process smoothly.
[00:20:16] Again, that’s GoWithJohn.com.
[00:20:27] All right, so we’re here with Jen Jacobs, she’s the CEO of AHIP, and Rachel Foster was with us and she has just departed. So we’re going to continue that conversation.
[00:20:38] So so Rachel brought up that you had some amazing stories of of folks that that you’ve helped. Can you what are what are some of the toughest one of the more notable families that you’ve helped? OK.
[00:20:53] There’s so many. So one that it’s going on right now, it’s actually wrapping up. It’s a it’s a it’s a very recent one. There’s a gentleman who lives in downtown Charlottesville who grew up in the house. He was born in the house. He is now 81 years old. I think so he’s in his early 80s. He he was born in that house. His parents bought the house, obviously at a time in the nation’s history in Charlottesville history, where that was not easy to do for a black family. Right. And he stayed and he went went to school locally. And then he left and he went to tech and agricultural school in North Carolina. So he left town and he and he went and he did that. And then after that, he enlisted in the army. So he was in the army for six years where he served and then his parents were ailing. So they were getting older and he felt like he was needed back here. So he returned to Charlottesville and he started his you know, he had already served the country and then he worked for UVA in circulation. I think he worked for two of the libraries in succession versus a career and then for the libraries. And then he left UVA and he went and served in the Albemarle County deputy as a deputy sheriff. So he worked in the sheriff’s office. He left there and he went and he had a fifteen year career for the Charlottesville Police Department and the patrol division, where he ended up as an investigator in the patrol division. So he worked and served Charlottesville community in that capacity for fifteen years. And then he left there and then he went to work for Jaunt, which is the Regional Transportation Service. And it’s a quasi governmental it’s private, but it’s, you know, contractual for the for the region. And he served as a driver for John, which serves the community in many ways by picking up elderly and people who are disabled. So it provides an essential service for the people who live here.
[00:22:58] And he was a driver for John and he retired from Jonte at age 77. Wow.
[00:23:04] So he spent he’s a lovely man. I haven’t I haven’t met him, but I’ve heard interviews done by him. And my my staff has met him. He so he spent his entire life from the time when he was like 21 years old. Seventy seven years old, worked until he was seventy seven and his house was literally falling down.
[00:23:25] And, you know, sometimes we’d speak hyperbolically. Right. But like it was actually literally falling down. The the windows were falling out of the of the casings. So they had pillows stuffed to keep the weather and the animals out. The the the exterior wall was actually falling away from the house. So by the time our crews got there, we actually had to they had to brace it while they gutted the front foir and we reframed everything so it would be stable. The reason he called us was because he didn’t have any heat, so he’d been without heat for a year. And throughout this time he he got married, he had kids. His wife passed away two years ago I think. OK, so now he’s he’s one of his adult children. Live with him, lives with him, but he’s he’s widowed.
[00:24:09] So he called because he didn’t have any heat and they were heating with space heaters and which, you know, gives heat. But it’s not safe and it’s not adequate for the whole is old this old house, which, you know, old houses, they’re not well insulated and some of them have no insulation at all.
[00:24:28] And we have seen that. Yeah. And and so so anyway, so he so he called because of the heat. And we have a partnership with Beck Cohen, which is a local HVAC company in town, and they have a partnership with Lennix, the supplier, and they were doing their bi annual Feel the Love campaign, which provides a free system for a client. And we work with Beck Cohen year round. So they provide multiple free systems for us, year round of discounted systems and other month. So it’s so anywhere from two to four free systems a year. So they’ve been an excellent partner for a couple of years now. So he was selected. We pitched his name to Beck Cohen and they picked him. And so we were able to go and do that. But when we got there, there was so much other work that needed to be done that we we didn’t take them into our full rehab program. And we’re doing a host of things like electrical and plumbing upgrades, a new roof. And like Rachel said, there were holes in the ceiling where, you know, the leaks had come through, which just weren’t safe. We way to reframe the entire front of the house and and, you know, redo the windows and just a host of things, the the project was, you know, almost a six figure project. But, you know, we talked about like what how do we how do we get the resources where they need to go and make sure that people I just one of the things that sort of stops me in my tracks sometimes is that people should have enough money.
[00:25:53] People should be making enough money when they’re doing these essential jobs so that they don’t need this amount of help all the time. And it’s and it’s just it just was very sad reading his extensive history and story and all that he’s given and the fact that he he did not have the resources to either, like, do it or borrow.
[00:26:13] Right. That he doesn’t even have the facility to borrow in the fixed income that he’s on now certainly doesn’t provide the opportunity to save. Right. Right. So that’s two things. Right. That shows how critical it is to keep this this mission going in, this organization going and making sure we have the resources we need to step in because we can’t go back and fix the system. Right. Right. Retroactively. We have to do that. But what can we do moving forward to try to make sure and shore up the resources or the public infrastructure that needs to be in place to avoid people getting to this point in the first place? You know, and and that’s something that has been on my mind this year. It’s a tough question, especially as we talk about things like we we were talking about the you know, the the the eviction moratorium. Right. And all of that that. Yes, people we can’t just evict 10 million families. Right. Like I mean, that would mean everything would collapse. Right.
[00:27:08] So, yeah, during the last break, we were talking about the the situation right now with covid and the tenants that can’t pay their rent because many of them are servers or have jobs now that are that are, you know, temporarily stopped, if not permanently stopped. And they can’t pay their rent. So the landlords can’t victim, but the landlords still have to pay the bank. So the landlords are getting squeezed in the middle. And how is all this going to play out?
[00:27:36] We don’t know. Right. So nobody knows yet. We can’t even begin to have a conversation about that. But it’s yeah, it’s it’s it’s a tough situation. So is he happy?
[00:27:45] Yeah. Yeah, he is. He is. And we are going to try to go out and get some pictures for annual report that we’re doing and had something happened and we couldn’t. So I haven’t had a chance to follow up. But we did. We, the local NBC affiliate, did a news story on them and wonder if he was talking about how happy it was. So good. You know, like I said, I’m just grateful to him for all the work that he’s done.
[00:28:07] And I and I’m and I’m just I’m honored that we get to help him this time. That’s great.
[00:28:12] Well, so you are here to fill the gap in that in that scenario, so. Yeah, yeah. But unfortunately, there’s probably more gaps to be filled than you can fill. There are a lot of gaps. Yeah. Yeah. So going back to the to the board and what you guys do on board meetings. So you guys get applications from people who need help or how does if somebody needs help, how do they reach out to. What’s the process.
[00:28:33] Yeah. So the process is they call or one of their advocates call or their family members call us. OK, we usually have an extensive waiting list. I mean, it’s been up into the hundreds and but our phones ring every day like so we always get calls coming in. So I would say, I don’t know, five to eight calls a week of people seeking help and sometimes more, sometimes less. But, you know, we have a major weather event or be super cold or super hot or very stormy or whatever. You know, two years ago when we got all that rain, you remember that year, I mean, the rain and rain, the roof calls in the mold. Calls were just I mean, it was just overwhelming. We had so much. So that definitely impacts the volume and what people are calling about.
[00:29:13] So what percentage of the people are you able to help? So if you’re getting you know, if you’re getting three, let’s say you’re getting a call a day, right. Sounds so if you’re getting three hundred and sixty five, seventy five calls a year, how many of those folks are you able to provide assistance to last year?
[00:29:29] So our fiscal year runs through June 30. So for FY twenty, which ended in June, we helped one hundred nine households, OK, that fiscal year.
[00:29:37] So about a third, about a third. So two thirds of the folks you can’t help either because the situation what would be the reasons why you wouldn’t be able to help.
[00:29:45] So the reasons would be that they the person who called just before them has a much more urgent, much more dire situation that you did. So if somebody so you triage, we triage and we rank and we wait. We have a weighted system in our database to figure out sometimes we’ll wait for vulnerability. So if we have a disabled elderly person living by herself, yeah, we’ll help her versus the family living that doesn’t have as quite dire situation. We might help the family with the little kids in the room. Sometimes we have funding sources that are just for a certain neighborhood or area of the county. If that’s the case, that’s how we try. So there’s lots of moving sherling pieces in terms of what we. Can wait, and sometimes it’s because the need is too great, so if we hadn’t had the funding in hand and if Mr. Brown had called us in the spring, yeah, we would have to just tip. We would have had to table that. So we probably would have topped the roof, maybe gotten him the system. Hope for the best with this house. Like, I don’t know if we would have been able to to do that. And so sometimes if a house is too big, if the project, you know, scope is too big or too dire, we just can’t. And we have to wait for funding sources to come in. Right.
[00:30:55] So you have so you have a wait list?
[00:30:56] We do have a wait list, although it’s not you know, sometimes people don’t don’t wait on the wait list. Sometimes they just call back. So it’s a little it’s not always consistent. It’s not always a consistent measure of of the need, but the volume of calls that we get and the amount of work that people need that we can’t necessarily get to. So sometimes we only do a portion of what they need. We do the most important things and we have to wait on the other thing. So they might actually be served and then go back to waiting. Right. For the next the next time.
[00:31:27] You. Yeah. So what do you need? Your organization. What does my organization.
[00:31:33] I know you were trying to figure out if I was asking though, what do you need or what is your organization.
[00:31:37] The organization requires resources in order to do this work.
[00:31:43] Right. So is it is it mainly cash donations, money that you need the most, or is it trade partners or what? So what what are you working for every day to get help and or or support the supply side for your.
[00:32:01] Yeah, yeah. So yes. So that’s a good question. So there’s lots of different resources that we, we ask for. Yeah. It’s money is one trade partners or the other. Like Beck Cohen is just a really good example of how we can work with partners to donate things that we would ordinarily have to pay for. Yeah, there’s that other partners have discounted, you know, provide discounts, but usually we pay, we have a bidding process and we just spit it out. I don’t it’s not like we get all of our all the stuff donated. So we pay and we actually you know, last year we we we invested about one point two dollars million into the local economy through the purchase of goods and services. So that’s another sort of like thing that we do. You know, we’re not just like, you know, when we describe ourselves as a charity, it just sounds like we’re taking stuff. But we’re actually like pumping it right, putting money back into the system.
[00:32:48] Yeah, exactly.
[00:32:49] So there’s volunteers, you know, volunteering is so those are sort of the various volunteers, building volunteers, board volunteers. So those are the those are the race for the main resources that we use. Money is the the best, most flexible resource that. That we have, especially when it’s flexible, so if we if you wrote me a check right now for a million dollars, I would be able to to go back and and invest that million dollars into the highest needs of the organization, whether it’s a chunk for critical home repair, the the emergencies that come in like my well is not working or my went out or the roof started leaking or whatever into more complex rehab projects and to support the infrastructure of the organization because none of the work gets done without the people managing the finance guy, billing the fundraisers, fundraising. And we get a we get a fair amount of public support. Albemarle County and the city of Charleston have been incredibly generous, which isn’t necessarily a given. When you talk about work like ours, the localities don’t have to do that and others choose to do that, which is which is wonderful. And we get some federal funding sources and we get some state funding sources or whatever. But one of the and I don’t know if a lot of people who have spent time in the for profit and haven’t spent a lot of time in the nonprofit world may not be familiar with this. But, you know, when you go to Domino’s and you buy a pizza, you give them fifteen dollars for the pizza. Right. They take that fifteen dollars and they support the entire company making the pizza, its funding, the people who do the work. It’s the CEO who does the vision. It’s like but you don’t go into the Domino’s place and give them fifteen dollars and say, I only want, I want fourteen dollars to go just to that pizza ingredients. Right. And I don’t want you spending any of my money on salaries. Right. Like nobody ever would even think of doing that to Apple or to Boeing or today. I mean that just doesn’t happen. But that’s what happens with nonprofits is that we are constrained by a lot of the funding sources and there are a myriad of them. Right. And so one of the things that that we have to focus at all, the nonprofit, you know, directors and leaders and fundraisers have to focus on is how you cover your costs. And so we have this we’re a construction company, essentially. We’re nonprofit construction company. Right. So we’ve got this construction business. But then we have to add a second business, which is fundraising and marketing on top of that. And then we have to have another business on top of that, of like funding, coordination, partner, coordination, volunteer management and that sort of thing. And that’s how we subsidize this work, which we can’t ordinarily in normal times harness enough enough funds to cover the full cost of doing it right. Because these various funding sources and funding institutions, not just people, but funding institutions, have measures in place where we can only use 10 percent of the grant for whatever. So I would say flexible funding that we then take and very responsibly and measuredly apply to the various things. And I know that people are concerned that, you know, we’ve always heard the stories about the nonprofits taking in, writing it on things that, you know, there’s been many high profile sort of cases of Red Cross ran into trouble, but not with your organization.
[00:36:18] No, no, not with my not with most like most of the organizations on the ground. We’re just trying to do the work. And and the thing is, we we want as much of that, as much as much of those funds as possible, whether it’s in kind donations from people like Beck Cohen or tiger fuel, which is another one of our partners we work with to go out because the phone keeps ringing like we just want to help. So money that’s the long answer. Yeah, that’s the short answer. That’s the short answer is money. The longer you got the long answer to. But yeah. So it is. And it’s expensive work, you know, it’s, it’s not, you know, when we are triaging.
[00:36:52] Right. And we’re doing that, that prioritization. So we’ve got if we want to serve the lowest income families and the most vulnerable families, families that are having the the most dire, life threatening emergencies, typically those are the houses that are the hardest hit. Right, because of the houses that have been subject to most of the most of the deferred maintenance over the years. Right. And so if we’re working on an old house in the 10000 page neighborhood in Charlottesville, which is of historic neighborhood old houses over 100 years old, a lot of them. Well, that’s I mean, to replace the windows and to put insulation and to, you know, gut rehab, some of them, which is what they need. And if we’re looking even, you know, more radically to rebuild, like knocked down and rebuilt, which we’ve done over the years. Right. When we have the funding sources to do it, that requires a lot of resources. So, you know, so going back to Rachel, having ambassadors, whether they’re on our border or or outside of our board, pushing for a commitment to this work and agreeing like if the community agrees that this is something that we do need to invest in, along with rental housing and support for renters, because that’s if we see housing as a continuum. Right. Right. For homeownership, you know. Let’s start with the people struggling with home homelessness right now, making sure that they are rapidly rehoused and have the resources that they need to get them back up and housed. And then we’ve got rental housing and all the continuum around that. And then homeownership, housing, counseling, foreclosure prevention and rehab and repair. Right. That is a continuum that all needs to be well funded and and well run by the municipalities in the state and federal and private partners. Right. It’s complex.
[00:38:40] It is complex. It really is. Yeah. Everything seems so simple on the surface. And as soon as you start scratching and anything, it’s it it everything’s complicated.
[00:38:50] Yeah. Yeah. And I’m sure you see it in real estate. Right. Like but yeah. And it’s, and it’s similar, it’s just kind of the flip side of making sure that we’re shoring up the, the foundation of the housing continuum so that people can do better in school so the kids can do better in school. Right. So that because the dividends that happen when people are safely and securely housed. Right. Have you know, implies better health and better public health and better success in school and better success at work and more stable job force. And, you know, all these things flow from that. Mm hmm. So, hi, I’m Jennifer Jacobs, the executive director of a home repair nonprofit. We believe that everyone should be safe at home. We provide critical home repairs, rehabs and energy upgrades for low income individuals and families in central Virginia. To learn more or to make a donation today, please visit a hit Vagg. That’s AHIP Vagg. Thank you.
[00:40:05] So how did you get into this organization? What brought you to the organization?
[00:40:14] So I moved to Charlottesville in two thousand six. Uh huh. It was 2005, my daughter was six weeks old.
[00:40:25] Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend that we moved from moving with a six week moving from moving to Charlottesville or having a daughter. You left the door wide open. Did.
[00:40:38] Yeah, no. So, yeah, I wouldn’t recommend moving across the country with a six week old infant and a two and a half year old toddler. Right from where did you from? Oakland, California. Oh, wow. So my husband at the time, we’re no longer married, but he got a job that he was recruited by Yuva. Yeah. The professor there. And we were living in Oakland and we moved across the country. Yeah, I grew up on the East Coast. So it was I feel like I was coming back home, but. Right. So that’s how we got here in Oakland. I had been working for the National Housing Law Project, which was an advocacy organization that did a lot of legal work around tenant protections and preservation work and that sort of thing. So when I got to Charlottesville, I was like, you know, maybe I’ll maybe I’ll stay home. Right, and be a stay at home mom. Like, maybe I will just not work for a while. And after about three weeks, I was like, I cannot stay home with these people.
[00:41:29] Somebody is not going to survive.
[00:41:31] So I so I started looking for work and and that was the right thing to do. And so I found this job and I thought, you know, at National Housing Law Project, we were working in very abstract, like it wasn’t tangible. You know, they were doing court cases that if they argued it today, we might not know the effects until years later. There’s nothing to really take a picture of. It was it was hard to to describe and make compelling unless you were in it and you knew the technical wonky stuff. Yeah, but just for general consumption, like it was hard to convey. Right. I think it’s easier now that more people are talking about it. But at the time it just seemed esoteric and hard to understand. So when I got to Charlottesville, I saw this organization, this job, and I was like, oh my gosh. Like I could take a picture of the roof. Yeah. Like, how it was so concrete. It was so tangible. And I loved that about this. And I still do like that. Everybody can relate to when they get home and they check isn’t running. And it should be like everybody knows that feeling of getting up and there’s water all over the floor like and everybody knows that sense of dread or exasperation or like, oh, it’s such a nuisance. Yeah. And then so I feel like I can I can take people’s hands and take them a couple more steps and be like and now you’ve got, you know, ten dollars in your bank account. Right. What are you going to do. Yeah. Like what are you going to do. Like what’s that, what does that feel like to know that you cannot you just have to wait. Right. Work around that. And so that really spoke to me on this. And and so that’s how I came to it’s very gratifying.
[00:42:59] It is very excited about you. I can see you have a lot of passion for what you do.
[00:43:03] Yeah, it’s it’s good. And I enjoy being part, like I said, of the of the family of housing organizations here, because we don’t operate in a vacuum. Right. It fits into the whole picture. Right. Because you can’t have one without the other. You know, if if if we do have a and we’ve had people who say, you know what, I’m I’m done with the house, I’m going to I’m going to I’m going to sell it or I need to go with my daughter wherever. Right. So some people just decide it’s too much. But but the one of the challenges of living in a high cost area like this is that the options for where people go when they have to or when they choose to are very, very limited. So if we we can spend ten thousand dollars or eight, eight to ten thousand dollars on a chairlift. So this is all in our last name. Francis, our name. Sure. Chairlift in orange. Still, she can get up and down her steps. Right. That means she’s she can stay in that house. She doesn’t have to worry about. There is no there is there’s one organization in Arlington that I know about that does subsidized its Culpeper Gardens. They do subsidized assisted living and it’s very, very affordable. And they are one of the very few they’re the only ones I know about in Virginia that do that. So there is a mistake. There are missing aspects of housing. Right, that people can’t just if you have the means you can find you might not like it or you might not want to. You know, you might not like the implications of having to do something like that, but you have the means to go do that. And even for people who are relatively stable, it is crushingly expensive. Right. So if I’m helping Frances in orange in the orange jail neighborhood with her chairlift, I know that’s that that is going to keep her safe and healthy. And she doesn’t have to worry about having to go into institutionalized nursing care because there’s nothing in the middle to help help her get it right. Up and down the stepsRight. Right.
[00:44:49] Well, it’s a fantastic organization. It’s a great cause. It’s a it’s a wonderful cause. So if people want to make donations, where do they go?
[00:44:57] They can go to our website. OK, it’s AHIPVA. So AHIP as in Paul VA.org. They can also look us up on Facebook. It’s not AHIP.org Brings you to some association of health insurance providers.
[00:45:13] Right, right. VA just them. We’ll get some links up on the on the episode guide for your for your episodes. So we’ll get.
[00:45:21] Be great, so we’re running. We’re having our annual campaign, our annual holiday campaign, our goal, we’re trying to raise a hundred thousand dollars so they can donate online or they can. So how close to your goal are you? You know, I don’t know.
[00:45:33] OK, I’ve raised I would say. We just got some donations in this week. We’re not we just started it and the mailing just went out, you 35, 40 thousand dollars, that’s pretty good.
[00:45:45] So you’ll get 100? I hope so. I think people are in a giving mood this year, 2020 with something. Yeah.
[00:45:51] You know, and we have had a lot of generous donations this year and to match the need.
[00:45:56] But that’s what I’m hearing. I’m hearing the folks are are generously giving for those in need. And there’s a lot of people out there.
[00:46:04] All right. So so, Jen, in closing, is there is there anything more you want to add or that you can think of that we didn’t chat about about your organization. We we know where to go to make a donation. We know you need funds.
[00:46:18] We know there are a lot of people out there that need your help. And I’m encouraging the folks in Northern Virginia who are hopefully have a little something extra they can contribute to help the suburbian folks in the state of Virginia that that need help would be great.
[00:46:35] But what is there anything else you want to add in closing?
[00:46:41] No, I just I really appreciate the opportunity to come in and talk to you. This has been great.
[00:46:45] Well, thanks, General. Enjoyed meeting you. I enjoyed hearing your stories. And hopefully we can help give a little to your organization. I appreciate it very much. Thanks, Jen. Thanks.
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