- Published on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 12:38
|By: Marianne Lynch|
A New Direction for Habitat - NRI
Over the last few months, I’ve been hinting at something new and exciting at Habitat. Internally and externally, I’ve been referring to it as NRI, but I’ve come to realize that, before I start throwing acronyms around, I should probably explain what they mean and why I am so excited for this change.
NRI refers to the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. It is a program launched by Habitat for Humanity International as a way for affiliates to become more deeply connected to the communities they serve, creating lasting impact for the people who live there.
Around the office, I have been using the terms NRI, critical home repair and home preservation almost interchangeably, confusing both myself and the staff. I think it is time that perhaps I clarify what I think NRI means and how products like critical repair of owner-occupied homes and home preservation products fit within its context.
NRI is a way of doing business that supports the needs of the community. Rather than us, the non-profit, coming into a community and telling it what we think is best to be a vibrant, productive neighborhood, it is a chance for us to look around, see what is being done to create such neighborhoods and plug in as a provider of services, such as construction, repair and homeownership opportunities. It is a true paradigm shift where the community dictates what is needed and both the public and private sectors respond.
Habitat International says the following about NRI: It is both a process and the result of an organized effort in a community, based upon shared vision of the quality of life they wish to achieve, leading toward greater—and sustainable—individual and collective wellbeing.
Within the context of NRI, Habitat will be able to make more of an impact than ever before. We will continue to perform our core activities of new home construction and rehabilitation, but we will expand our services as well to include critical home repairs in owner-occupied dwellings and home preservation activities like painting and cleaning. Things like being able to help an elderly homeowner remain in a residence by creating an access ramp will now be part of our array of services, as will things like repairing leaky roofs, or fixing a hole in a porch floor so that children have a safe place to play. What is special about these activities though, is that they will be targeted in areas where the community has identified the need. That means, in a four or five block radius, you might see us rehabbing a home, repairing two roofs, painting someone’s porch, picking up trash and cleaning a playground. We won’t be there alone though - community members, leaders, government officials, businesses and others will be right alongside, helping the community become what it always knew it could.
I am so excited for this shift in our focus for several reasons, including the ability to effect more of our neighbors, increase our county’s quality of life, decrease things like blight and crime, provide more opportunities for people like you to be involved and eventually support more safe, decent affordable homes – whether they are built by us or others. I hope that you will be part of this shift with us as a volunteer, supporter and passionate advocate. In the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts concerning our new direction!