How do you ensure a century-old California farmhouse-turned-temporary homeless shelter continues to rebuild lives? You do some actual rebuilding on the site.
HomeAid is a national nonprofit who works to build and renovate shelters. My chapter, HomeAid Orange County, recently chose the Homeless and Intervention Shelter, or H.I.S. House in Placentia, Calif., because of the opportunity for major retrofitting due to outdated systems and building components. With 13 guest rooms, the facility can house up to 40 clients at any time, and through its four- to six-month residency program, adults secure employment and save money for permanent housing.
With the help of a grant from Walmart, the retrofits to H.I.S. House included replacing two HVAC systems, upgrading lighting to high efficiency fluorescents, and adding attic insulation, Energy Star roofing, a revolutionary solar and thermal panel system, and Energy Star appliances.
The result is that H.I.S. House’s annual energy cost of $10,400 will be cut to $1,400 – an 86 percent savings. An additional $9,000 per year will now be available to meet the more direct needs of the shelter’s residents. And the funds expended will be paid back in six years.
These savings will allow H.I.S. House to direct even more funding to operating programs that serve residents directly, rather than facility maintenance. It was a project that will help hundreds of families over the course of the next few years get back on their feet and live self-sufficient lives.
It is our hope that the success of HomeAid and Walmart’s Environmental Sustainability Program will provide guidance to thousands of multi-unit group housing facilities around the country on how to retrofit their own structures and therefore help more people. In the future, HomeAid will publish the results of the program online in a format that can assist nonprofit service providers in taking on their own retrofitting efforts.
The project at H.I.S. House has allowed us to say that HomeAid has now completed more than 275 multi-unit shelters in 15 states and the District of Columbia. I’m proud to be a part of one of the nation’s largest developers of housing for the homeless, which has now helped to house more than 145,000 people seeking to rebuild their lives.