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Churches are often the first to identify a community need, as was the case with Trinity Presbyterian Church in Henderson County. In 1988, members identified a pressing need in their community: a lack of safe housing for families. Responding to this need, volunteers started addressing minor home repairs for families facing financial constraints. A few families turned into a dozen, and soon these volunteers realized they needed more resources to be able to assist more families and accommodate the growing population of migrant agricultural workers.
The church founded the Housing Assistance Corporation in 1993 and hired an executive director. Over the years, the organization has expanded its programs to include home repairs, single and multi-family housing development, as well as homebuyer education and housing counseling services for residents across Henderson, Polk, and Transylvania counties.
The impact that the organization has had on their community has been impressive, but they wanted to reach more people. In January of 2023, the Housing Assistance Corporation joined the Healthy Opportunities Pilot (HOP) network, opening new doors to aid more individuals including those who rent their homes.
“Through HOP, we get to meet the needs of people we don’t normally serve in our other programs,” explained Stefanie Kompathoum, home repair and HOP coordinator.
Since joining HOP, the Housing Assistance Corporation has already exceeded its home repair goals, providing safe homes for 121 people and 34 children. HOP capacity funding dollars helped the Housing Assistance Corporation hire another employee and purchase a vehicle for home repair staff to meet the growing need. “HOP increased our services by a third in the home repair department,” Stefanie shared. “We have served more people and completed more repairs than we ever have before.”
Their success has positively impacted families in their community, and the Smith family can attest to this. Last December, a water leak rotted away the flooring of two bedrooms and a bathroom, leaving the family with only half of their home and a horrible case of mold and mildew. Their homeschooled children were having to sleep and study in the living room, and no one had any privacy.
After enrolling in HOP, the Smith family was referred to the Housing Assistance Corporation which arranged for a home inspection and then contractors to fix their flooring and remove the mold damage. The Smiths entered the holiday season with two new bedrooms and a bathroom for their two children, giving them all the much-needed space to thrive.
“It’s not just their home, it’s their workday and their school day as a family,” Stefanie said. “Having that healthy work environment around them that’s not full of mold, I’m just so excited to see their situation improve.”
The Smiths could not be more thankful to the Housing Assistance Corporation and HOP for giving them the use of the entire home again. The impact of home repairs extends beyond physical fixes, it’s also about fostering connections and affirming community values.
“One of the biggest benefits of home repair for the client is knowing that somebody else out there is thinking about them,” Stefanie said.
With over 35 years of experience in home repairs, this Hendersonville-based organization is looking forward to growing its involvement in HOP.
“We are excited to be a part of a pilot program working to improve the health of our community by improving social determinants of health,” Stefanie said. “It’s just so exciting to be one of the first in the nation trying to do this work.”
–Stefanie Kompathoum, home repair and HOP coordinator