One of HomeAid’s first projects in Northern Virginia was the construction of a teen shelter for Alternative House. Now, 12 years later, HomeAid and Builder Captain M/I Homes have put the finishing touches on the renovation of a townhome recently purchased by Alternative House for young mothers looking to finish their education and gain employment.
The $30,000 project focused primarily on converting a closet into a second full bath so that two families could live together but still have separate bath facilities—a critical part of maintaining morning and evening routines for young children. New showerheads and anti-scald faucets were also installed in both bathrooms for safety. Old carpeting was replaced with easy-to-clean and more durable vinyl flooring, except on the stairs, where new carpeting was installed; railings were installed on an exterior deck for added safety; new insulation was blown into the attic for improved efficiency; the HVAC system was thoroughly inspected; new shelving was installed in a large storage room; and touch up work on trim, gutters and doors was completed throughout.
The townhome is one of several others in the same neighborhood that Alternative House rents or owns, allowing case workers to work with pregnant and young mothers as they transition between stages of support. Women start in a home with on-site staff and then move down the street to a more independent lifestyle in another one of Alternative House’s properties.
In November, a mom and her toddler son moved in to the newly renovated townhome, and it was an especially rewarding moment: The mom had temporarily lost custody of her son due to unstable employment and housing. But since entering Alternative House’s program, she has earned her high school diploma, gained a full time job and has a stable place to live … all of which helped her regain full custody of her son.
“This house was purchased with the goal of having a functional and safe home for moms who are close to graduating from our program and are working at least 30 hours a week,” said Meghan Huebner, director of residential services for Alternative House. “This project ensures that our families can stick to a routine and live in a home that is structurally safe and easy to keep clean. And, since we pay for utilities, having a highly efficient home is important; it allows us to direct our resources toward staffing and service provision, including case management, therapeutic services and job placement services.”
Eric Ferreira, vice president of construction for M/I Homes, found the decision to take on the project an easy one. “We do these projects because we want to help people,” he said. “So often, we take for granted what we have, and we get so caught up in our own lives. But anytime children and young mothers are involved, it ratchets things up to another level: The little things we do every day can be game changers … a new tile floor is huge for these moms, who want their kids to have a clean, safe place to crawl. Having a separate bathroom so that each family can bathe their kids in a tub and keep them on a bedtime routine is huge. We really can make a big impact on these families’ lives.”