With many homes still too damaged to be habitable, housing has been identified as one of the most pressing needs following the August 10 derecho. A new program called the Providing Assistance to Community Homeowners (PATCH) has been created to help homeowners repair homes or make them livable for the winter months.
United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI), Alliant Energy Foundation and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation have coordinated efforts in the weeks since the storm to ensure recovery needs are identified and services are not duplicated. The funders will award recovery grants to PATCH to help nonprofits who are working to address the housing needs of Linn County residents through the PATCH program.
“We have a significant and immediate need for home repairs,” said Les Garner, President & CEO of the Community Foundation. “We also have local organizations that are equipped to address these concerns and we’re working together to get the resources where they are needed.”
The need for housing repairs was identified through data collected by Linn County, the City of Cedar Rapids, and other nonprofit organizations.
Residents can access the program by calling Waypoint. Displaced renters will be referred to the rental assistance program or, if facing homelessness, entered into the centralized intake system. Homeowners will be referred to a variety of organizations based on their needs. Income guidelines will determine who qualifies to receive support from the construction program.
The program encourages people to check in on friends and neighbors who may be in need of assistance and refer them to Waypoint.
Repair work will be coordinated by Matthew 25, which has extensive experience in home repair and construction. Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) and Iowa Legal Aid will provide assistance with FEMA applications, insurance claims, or other legal needs.
“We know that a lot of financially strapped homeowners have immediate needs for patching roofs and getting ready for winter,” said Clint Twedt-Ball, Executive Director of Matthew 25 in Cedar Rapids. “Since the flood of 2008, Matthew 25 has supported the rehabilitation of more than three-hundred homes. The PATCH program continues this critical work. We appreciate the support from the local funders to come together quickly to help address this challenge.”
The Alliant Energy Foundation and UWECI will expand the scope of their Project ReConnect program to support the PATCH effort. The program was originally formed after the derecho to help Alliant Energy’s most vulnerable customers reconnect personally owned exterior electrical systems. Specifically, Project ReConnect’s funds will provide Matthew 25 with a Housing Rehab Coordinator, and will partially fund a Volunteer Coordinator along with the Community Foundation. These positions will identify and coordinate contracted and volunteer efforts to provide housing rehabilitation.
UWECI will also provide a grant to support the administration of PATCH. The Community Foundation, together with World Class Industries, Inc., will fund the supplies and materials for construction repairs.
Volunteers and contractors interested in helping with PATCH are encouraged to contact Matthew 25 at 319-362-2214. Financial donations supporting PATCH can be directed to Matthew 25, and donations for general disaster recovery efforts can be directed to the Community Foundation and UWECI. More information can be found at www.hub25.org/patch.
To receive assistance for housing repairs through PATCH, homeowners can call Waypoint at (319) 366-7999.