An affordable home

Mission | January 2, 2019

The house on Charlotte Street in Davenport was in bad shape. The bank had taken it back from a previous owner. It needed pretty much everything – plumbing, electrical, HVAC, a roof, and all sorts of drywall, painting, flooring, and appliances.

Along came One Eighty – an organization that knows a few things about rehabbing buildings and lives. Their dream? To renovate, each year, a handful of the dozens and dozens of abandoned and neglected houses in Davenport, and then give families with low income the opportunity to own a home.

The bank gave One Eighty the house for free. One Eighty’s work crews – the organization runs businesses to assist its program participants in returning to productive lives – worked on the house. One Eighty invested about $35,000 on materials and professionals to make the transformation complete.

“We want to take every abandoned house we can get our hands on and renovate them,” said Rusty Boruff, One Eighty’s leader. “Don’t believe people when they tell you it can’t be done. This is the new way to fight poverty, homelessness, and our affordable housing crisis. This house will be used to bless a family going through a difficult time. It’s a pretty simple concept.”

The house on Charlotte Street was the first One Eighty completed. A family of three, a couple and their son, recently moved in. Soon, in partnership with St. Paul, One Eighty will find another house to do the same. Who will live there? A family whose children attend Madison Elementary School, which St. Paul also partners with, will be chosen to start on the path to homeownership.

An incredible need
Last year, the All St. Paul Reads selection was Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. It prompted a discussion: What can St. Paul do to eliminate the housing barriers people in poverty face, while also stabilizing neighborhoods through homeownership?

Over the past several months, the St. Paul Mission Board engaged in detailed conversations regarding local options for affordable housing. They brainstormed and investigated a number of ways St. Paul might make a meaningful and substantial impact for some low income individuals in search of stable housing.

“We recognize there is an incredible need for local, stable, and safe housing, particularly in the neighborhood that serves as the residential base for Madison Elementary School, our partner school,” the Mission Board said in its report to the Congregational Council. “We believe there is substantial merit in identifying and assisting working families whohave so much in place to succeed in life, but who cannot land or afford safe and dependable housing. We’ve wondered together how we might help foster safe and affordable housing that would, in turn, allow other basic necessities for human flourishing to fall into place for at least a few families.”

As part of this agreement, St. Paul will make an upfront monetary gift of $43,000 to One Eighty for the express purpose of One Eighty acquiring and rehabbing a home in need of repairs in the Madison Elementary School boundary. One Eighty will own the home. The family selected for the program will make a reasonable payment each month to One Eighty, based on their income. In this rent-to-own model, One Eighty will eventually turn over ownership of the home once program expectations are met.

All the while, a team of people from St. Paul will help refurbish the home, and then support the family as they move from instability to stability. The hope is that this pilot project is the beginning of an extended partnership.

Choosing the family
Christina Taylor, who is Madison Elementary’s social worker, will guide the process of selecting a family. She also was involved in the selection of the family now calling Charlotte Street home. Oftentimes, even with working two or more jobs, it is hard for families to afford a home.

“It was one of the most fulfilling projects I’ve been involved with,” she said. “The family was so deserving. They work so hard. It felt so, so good. The key thing is finding the right family.”

The pride of ownership, and accountability for what happens in their neighborhood, is an important part of the initiative, Christina said.

“It offers stability for children – moving from house to house and school to school isn’t good for them academically,” she said. “And it builds strong relationships.”

The family selected for Charlotte Street lived in a run-down studio apartment, the mom said. She grew up in Davenport, and never imagined she could own a home here. When she walked through the door of her new home a month ago, the people of One Eighty had fully furnished it – including a Christmas tree.

“I’m so very blessed,” she said.

On that day, staff from Madison Elementary School came to celebrate. Rusty noticed when one of the teachers, as she was leaving, said to the family’s child: “I’ll see you tomorrow, buddy.”

“This is 100 percent built on relationships,” Rusty said. “The only way this concept works is when families are surrounded by people who care about them.”

4 Comments on “An affordable home”

  • Carol Seitz

    January 5, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Projects like this are what make St Paul the strong , vital church it is – always looking outward instead of inward.

  • Georgia Dugan

    January 4, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    This makes my heart happy.

  • Sue Drobushevich

    January 4, 2019 at 10:12 am

    That is awesome!

  • Pamela Spear

    January 3, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    This is a wonderful outcome from St. Paul’s meeting last year about affordable housing. A big thanks to the Mission Committee and everyone involved in this approach to make more affordable housing available. I believe this will work well now and in the future, as more people get involved.

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Malachi 3:1-4

The Coming Messenger 3 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.[a] 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Hebrews 2:14-18

14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters[a] in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Luke 2:22-40

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple 22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[a] this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.[b] 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[c] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon[d] took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant[e] in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36 There was also a prophet, Anna[g] the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[h] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. The Return to Nazareth 39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.