Dear Neighbors Place and Park Place Volunteers and other supporters of Project Neighbors,
Since I last wrote, much has happened. In Late December, 2016, we completed the renovation of the former Sun Appliance building and, under the ownership of Housing Opportunities, opened fifteen units of housing to single women.
With Neighbors Place, that makes thirty-three units created in the past three years. In Valpo, women on no longer sleeping on church floors. (The men continue to sleep on church floors.)
At Neighbors Place, in January, we installed a second laundry room to accommodate the women's needs.
In February,thanks to an anonymous donor, we gave a $5000 grant to the Northwest Indiana African American Alliance to create a "cultural hub" in Valparaiso.
In April, with the help of B.R.O. (Brothers Reaching Out, a chapel based service fraternity at Valparaiso University) we tore out the asphalt in the parking lot at Park Place to create a rain garden for the residents there.
In May things got complicated. A very small flash of flame from a frying pan set off a sprinkler head in a third floor unit at Neighbors Place. By the time the sprinkler head was turned off - about fifteen minutes later - hundreds of gallons of water had flooded Neighbors Place. The resultant drying out and minor repairs cost us a $2500 insurance deductible.
In May we began construction on a room addition to a very small Project Neighbors residence housing a single mom and six children. Now nearing completion, this addition will offer much needed living space and bedroom privacy to this formerly homeless clan. But it cost $6000.
In June the reality of owning lots of housing struck hard. Project Neighbors provides housing to needy folks at our cost. So, for example, if a mortgage for a house costs us $450 per month and insurance is $75 per month, we charge the resident family $525 per month. With out tax exempt status we are free of property tax costs. We can provider this affordability by building new housing with volunteer labor or by purchasing existing housing at no more than $80,000. This formula does create affordability, but there is little financial slop available for maintenance nor calamities.
The calamities all struck in June: a new water heater at one house, a roof replacement due to aging shingles at another, a dead AC unit during the 90 degree plus period at another, discovery that a recently purchased house had no side wall insulation at another, and finally the need for an elevator repair at Neighbors Place.
In addition we are attempting to purchase the last affordable lot in Valpo. The cost of the lot is low enough to allow us to build two very affordable, three bedroom units which we will do after securing a construction loan. But we had to do a ground water study to prevent the kind of calamity that happened in East Chicago. That study cost $4000.
Finally, yesterday we discovered that we must cut down five trees on a property which houses another family.
It has been exciting!
We depend on small contributions from folks to sustain routine overhead costs, and generally they do. But this recent burst of costs has been tough.
Here's what I am asking.
First, I want to take the five trees down myself but I lack expertise and muscle to do it alone. I need some people who have some experience in felling trees. These are not extremely large trees - 10-12 inches in diameter, but tall. Three of them are near the house. Or, I need money to hire the job done.
And finally, I figure we need somewhere in the vicinity of $16,000 to cover all the spending of the past six months.
Project Neighbors does what it does without federal, state or local grants. We do it all with financial and volunteer help from people in our community.
Here is the plan: I have received commitment from a generous, anonymous donor for a matching gift of $5000...if we can raise the other $5000. While we need 16 K to fully re-fund our account, $10,000 will be close and we believe we can raise the rest.
So if you believe that the work of Project Neighbors is important, or you've just won the lottery, or you have a few bucks to spare, send a check to Project Neighbors, 454 S. College Ave., Valparaiso, IN 46383. Every dollar is fully tax deductible.
And if you feel like doing some logging, respond to this email and we will set a date to take down those five trees.
I appreciate all the support we have received in the past.