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Three Questions with… Deb Cummins of Habitat Lehigh Valley

Deb Cummins - Habitat LV1. What is Habitat of the Lehigh Valley and what does it do for the community?

No matter who we are or where we come from, we all deserve to have a decent life. We deserve to feel strength and stability day after day. We deserve to know we have the power to take care of ourselves and build our own futures.

At Habitat for Humanity of the Lehigh Valley, this is what unites us. Through shelter, we empower. Our shared vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Habitat for Humanity of the Lehigh Valley (Habitat LV) is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. We bring s people together to build homes, communities, and hope in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Our goals are to develop safe, secure, healthy, and most importantly affordable housing solutions for hardworking, low-income families in our community. Anchored by the conviction that housing provides a critical foundation for breaking the cycle of poverty, we provide low income families with a zero percent interest mortgage product to keep homeownership and home repair affordable for local families. This month, we dedicated our 110th home in Easton.

2. How do PNLV and Habitat work together? What goals do the two organizations share?

Habitat LV and Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley share a common agenda of enhancing the quality of life in targeted neighborhoods in our community. By using a collective impact approach to community development, both organizations are making a commitment to compliment and concentrate resources in targeted neighborhoods in the Lehigh Valley. These neighborhoods have been  identified based on need assessments. In practicing a collective impact model we are developing a shared agenda, practicing continuous communication, creating shared measurement, and coordinating mutually reinforcing activities so that we can build a holistic community revitalization program that will have increased impact in our targeted neighborhoods.

3. What projects will you be working on with PNLV this year?

Our collective impact approach will serve the community by facilitating a platform to introduce housing resources and services in PNLV’s targeted neighborhoods. Habitat offers expertise in affordable housing solutions while the mission of PNLV is to foster cooperation among residents and the Greater Lehigh Valley to create safe, healthy, vibrant, inclusive neighborhoods that empower children to succeed in school and enable families to thrive. Specifically, in 2016-2017, our organizations are committed to the following initiatives:

• Launch of HLV’s Exterior Home Preservation Project (EHP) in South Bethlehem: As an extension of the Neighborhood Revitalization program (NR), the EHP will attend to the preservation and repair of home exteriors, including facade work, weatherization, painting and repairs that address safety, security, code violation and accessibility, including the installation of handicap-accessible ramps and railings in the newly designated Bethlehem Promise Neighborhood.

• Ongoing Community Needs Assessment: This summer, in partnership with Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, Habitat LV will be conducting resident surveys to determine the need and success rates of programs within the designated census tracts in the City of Bethlehem. Through survey data and resident input, Habitat will build its programs to expand affordable housing services in South Bethlehem.

• Block Party Celebrations:  In partnership with PNLV, Habitat Lehigh Valley will co-sponsor Neighborhood Block Parties in both Allentown and Bethlehem. The Block Parties were created by PNLV to bring neighborhood residents together.

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