The Realtor-Community Housing Foundation (RCHF) is a nonprofit organization committed to providing those in need with safe living conditions. Established from the Community Service Committee of the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors, (LBAR) along with several local community partnerships, people in hopeless living situations are seeing a much brighter future.
Without outside assistance, family homes often deteriorate. They can reach the point of becoming condemnable or unlivable. In the short-term, that can mean uncomfortable or unsuitable accomodations, eventually sending families into temporary housing situations. In some circumstances, it can even result in homelessness. RCHF sets out to change that.
By fostering a commitment to community, RCHF’s goal is to empower families by assisting homeowners in need–specifically low-income, elderly individuals–to be able to stay in their homes. RCHF focuses on improving the quality of living for every individual, couple and family who is affected by unsafe or unlivable circumstances, with the mission to strengthen neighborhoods and the local economy in the process.
How RCFH Came About
Incorporated in 1992, the organization was made possible through existing partners, including the Remodelers Council of the Home Builders Association of Lexington, surrounding small businesses, civic clubs and local churches. RCHF consists of an inspiring team of selfless individuals, volunteer students and educators.
Deni Hamilton, President of RCFH, claims she couldn’t be prouder to be part of an organization where the passion to help people in need is palpable. Overwhelmed with the amount of selflessness shown through the team’s efforts in creating better lives for those in unfortunate living situations, Hamilton continues to lend her time and effort to the cause.
Her first experience with RCFH was in 1997, when she was contacted by Kentucky Housing Corporation to Chair Scott County’s first Repair Affair, a developmental housing project. According to Hamilton, the Governor at that time was offering matching Grants up to $4,000. She recalls thinking $1,000 was a challenging amount of money to raise. Enthusiastic about the realtor, builder and community outpouring to assist in the project, she did everything from painting and roofing to building a bridge over a creek.
“I can honestly say I helped roof a house!” Hamilton told us, “Back when I first started, there was more hands-on involvement. We all miss those days.”
Looking back on that initial experience, she realized just how much the organization has grown, now helping more people with more “skill-required improvements,” as she puts it, than they alone ever could. She largely credits the team’s accomplishments to partnering organizations.
“We have some heart-breaking stories of how some of our elderly live,” Hamilton shared with us. “How something as little as cleaning a fence row can make them feel proud again, and that couldn’t have been done without the organizations supporting us.”
From a Homeowner’s Perspective
Angela Shannon, a participant of RAMP, talked with us about how RCHF completely changed she and her late husband’s life through the installation of their wheelchair ramp. Her husband, James Shannon, had become terminally ill with first kidney failure and then cancer, leaving him unable to get out of the house because the couple didn’t have a ramp.
“He felt trapped,” Angela said. “We live on a hill and he couldn’t go to the store or anywhere with me–even outside–because he had no way to get out of the house.”
After James’ unfortunate passing in October of last year, Angela now uses the ramp due to having knee replacement surgery, telling us over and over again how thankful she is for the RCHF’s kindness.
“I’m doing well,” she remarked. “I can get outside and look at my yard, and really get anywhere I need. Many thanks to them,” she continued. “They changed our life.”
Current Programs & Projects of RCHF
Hamilton, humbled by support from the community and generosity of volunteers, explains that there are many people in our community without safe access in and out of their homes, a rising number of them elderly homeowners who simply need a few exterior repairs.
“They are often clinging on to the house where they grew up and where they raised their children,” Hamilton said of the elderly.
“They’re clinging on to their neighbors and neighborhood that they love, where a minor exterior repair can make a significant difference.”
The Housing Foundation programs include Remodeling for Access and Mobility Program, (RAMP) which makes homes more accessible with the installation of ramps and/or other adaptations for individuals with mobility impairments, Repair Affair, which assists low-income, elderly homeowners with overdue exterior repairs, and the Emergency Program, which provides emergency repairs such as furnace and plumbing.
The programs are assessed through the organization as it receives applications from people needing repairs and improvements made on their property. Typical requests are needing a yard raked, having new screens put in, caulking sinks and installing a new HVAC or getting a new roof.
In partnership with Habitat, RCHF is currently working on two interior repair projects, one at Gerald Drive, the homeowner an Army Veteran on dialysis, the other on Charles Drive, the homeowner an elderly woman with allergy issues.
The organization will be making extensive repairs to both homes, so far installing floor joists, sub floor and removing all belongings and valuables. Volunteers and workers will be installing flooring and replacing cabinets, doors and baseboards, and will also repaint the entire insides of each home. According to Hamilton, the focus of the nonprofit will remain on the elderly, keeping direction in line with why the foundation started in the first place.
The families served by RCHF welcome and appreciate any support and generosity that the community provides. You can make a difference by contributing your time scraping, painting and delivering lunches, or by making a financial donation to one or more of the programs.
The organization is also always looking for help with fundraising, public relations projects and related administrative duties.
To find out more information, visit www.rchf-ky.org