Offering Flexibility on the Path to Recovery
Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity provides a way for people to rebuild their lives and have a safe, affordable place to call home. With programs built on the idea of a hand up rather than a handout, they offer flexibility that aims to address an individual’s needs before working to a solution.
When the COVID-19 pandemic created significant financial and operational challenges for Habitat, the Truman Heartland Community Foundation Community Grants program offered critical relief support.
“Typically, we would apply for innovative funding to expand Truman Heritage Habitat programs,” said Christina Leakey, President and CEO, “however, due to COVID, disaster relief support was truly what we needed just to sustain the organization’s essential operations.”
Shutdowns in the early part of the crisis and efforts to reduce the spread impacted Habitat’s efforts on every level. They had to drastically scale back volunteers for their home building programs and completely halted home preservations, which help people invest in critical home repairs and updates so older residents can safely stay in their homes.
They faced unprecedented funding challenges. Habitat’s annual fundraiser, Dig Deep and Leap, was cancelled along with other crowd-oriented fundraising events. Their two ReStores closed for almost three months. Habitat’s ReStores, where they sell donated home improvement materials, typically provide $80,000 per month. This temporary closure forced them to furlough store employees and lose that constant flow of flexible support, an important part of their operating budget.
“COVID really hit home in a lot of ways. In addition to these challenges, we had homeowners and a longstanding construction crew volunteer, who was also a former Board member, pass away due to COVID.”
In July, Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity received a grant from Truman Heartland Community Foundation for general operating support.
“The funding from Truman Heartland was a godsend. So much grant funding is restrictive. Th grant offered flexibility that helped us navigate this difficult time and insured our ability to offer additional support to the homeowners that we serve in Eastern Jackson County communities.”
As the crisis continues, Truman Heritage Habitat continues to adapt. Their ReStores reopened and have stayed open. They completed the home builds and renovations scheduled in 2020. They joined community partners like Community Services League, Hillcrest Ministries and Hope House to work together to respond to the greater need for emergency and affordable housing options, which is certain to increase once the ban on evictions and foreclosures is lifted.
“The need is growing, and flexibility is key in order for us be stronger as an organization and continue to be a part of the community’s COVID-19 recovery.”