Fennie Community Fund
Legal-name: Rebuilding Together Long Beach
Previous-name: Christmas in April
Address: 3515 Linden Avenue
City: Long Beach
Ranking-title: Maria Mazzenga Avellaneda, Executive Director
First-name: Maria Mazzenga Avellaneda
Title: Executive Director
Textarea-499: Increasing housing and community equity
What-is-project: A home means many things: memories, love, connection, safety, comfort. It is as much of a feeling as a place. But for millions of our neighbors, that feeling is uncertainty, sickness, isolation, hopelessness. 2.9 million of our neighbors struggle with health and economic implications of living in unsafe and unstable homes.
Preserving critical affordable housing is paramount in keeping families housed and stabilizing neighborhoods. Rising income inequality and displacement prompted by gentrification underscores the urgency to help low-income homeowners with critical home repairs that help them stay in their homes and preserve their most important assets, in addition to protecting their health and safety
Homeowners, faced with diminishing resources, must often choose food and medicine over critical repairs to their home, choices that over time lead to a myriad of issues that directly affect their immediate and long-term health and safety. With our typical recipient having a median income of just over $20,000 per year, and costs for these types of repairs ranging from $5,500 – $10,000 per residence, the resulting erosion of health, safety and quality of life for these residents can seem an insurmountable issue. In the City of Long Beach 30% of the population is over 50; 27% of those live alone while 14% live below the poverty line. Over one third of our older adult population lives with one or more disabilities while less than a third receive preventive services.
Since 1991, Rebuilding Together Long Beach (RTLB) has focused on our neighbors and the under-served communities where they reside. We achieve this by providing free critical home repairs, accessibility modifications and energy-efficient upgrades to our very low and extremely low-income (<50% AMI), differently-abled, older, and veteran neighbors; and by rallying neighborhoods, nonprofits and government to beautify public spaces, rehabilitate facilities and create safer communities.
Common critical repairs and home safety modifications include installing grab bars/handrails and ramps; removing tripping hazards; replacing old carpeting with resilient flooring; installing seismic straps and release valves on water heaters, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and adequate lighting around the interior and exterior of the house; and removing debris/clutter in and around the house. These critical repairs do more than prevent our neighbors from losing their home, they are provided with a safe and healthy home where they may age in place, further stabilizing the community.
How-will-you-succeed: We will know we had succeeded when our families are able to stay in their homes and those homes are safe and healthy. Outcomes are measured in several areas. To begin, RTLB has adopted the Healthy Housing Standards as set forth by the National Center for Healthy Housing. The Healthy Housing Standards are guided by seven principles: a healthy home should be dry, clean, pest-free, contaminant-free, safe, ventilated, and well-maintained. These principles, endorsed by the Surgeon General, are put into action by the Healthy Housing standards, making health and safety repairs more accessible, actionable, and affordable and RTLB utilizes these standards in order to address preventative repair needs of low-income homeowners before the needs become serious deferred maintenance issues which often result in residents losing their home or costly medical conditions, injuries, even death.. Our goal is to complete 98% of the list for each home.
In addition, we survey homeowners and volunteers. Thirty days after the project, the homeowner is called and asked to complete an evaluation either online or by phone. We expect that at least 95% of homeowners will state
The home repairs made a positive impact in their life
The repairs kept their home problems from getting worse
They can safely live in their home over the next decade (age in place)
They can continue to afford to continue living in their home
Volunteers are surveyed within 3 days of completing this process through an email, we expect that at least 95% will state that
They made a positive impact in the homeowner’s life
They have made a positive impact in the community
Our results are shared with our stakeholders in print materials and online. Our work is ongoing and is being integrated into our Community Revitalization Partnership, an initiative from our national organization to increase impact and improve outcomes for families and communities in need through a partnership-focused business model centered on community revitalization with a deep commitment to Safe and Healthy Housing. By targeting our work in distress neighborhoods and aligning our services more closely with other nonprofits service providers, RTLB improves the health and safety conditions of entire neighborhoods, not just individual homes.
Who-are-you: RTLB is one of over 130 Rebuilding Together affiliates across the country. Between our incorporation in 1991 and year end 2018, we have actively put our mission, Repairing homes, Revitalizing communities, Rebuilding lives into action. We have performed over 400 home repair projects and rehabilitated 75 non-profit facilities. Our home repair projects touched more than 300 older neighbors, 350 women, 135 children, and 245 differently-abled neighbors, while improvements on nonprofit facilities reached into the lives of tens of thousands of individuals. Over 14,000 volunteers, working in excess of 130,000 volunteer hours, helped accomplish these feats. The total market value of the repairs we have performed surpasses $6 million. Support comes from a wide range of sources, each of which is interested in helping RTLB keep people safe and healthy in their homes.
RTLB accomplishes more with less. For every dollar donated, additional dollars are leveraged in the form of donated materials, funds, and services, including both skilled and unskilled labor. We are 99% volunteer-driven which accomplishes three goals simultaneously: (i) it engages community volunteers in service to others; (ii) it provides team building opportunities for companies and their employees; and, most crucially, (iii) it leverages scarce resources.
RTLB’s volunteer Board of Directors and Advisory Board are a committed group of community volunteers with diverse backgrounds including construction management, financial planning, legal, corporate, technology and carpentry. Our Executive Director, Maria Mazzenga Avellaneda, graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Quantitative Business Analysis and began her career with a major oil company holding various positions with increasing responsibility. After several years, Maria followed her heart and left the business world for one of service and has worked in the nonprofit arena for over 20 years, including 15 as Executive Director of three nonprofits that focus on housing. Key volunteers round out our leadership team. These individuals are readily available to lead projects, interview homeowners or create a scope of work.
Support comes from a wide range of sources, each of which is interested in helping RTLB to build a better community. Partners include government entities foundations and financial institutions, construction industry, and educational institutions.
What began in 1973 as a simple act of neighbors helping neighbors live in safer homes, has expanded into a holistic vision of collective action to stabilize and revitalize entire neighborhoods.