“Flipping for Families” is a new mission project of Freewill Baptist Disaster Relief. It is based in a local church that has been serving as a disaster relief center since the storms.
Volunteers are renovating abandoned properties in the city with the consent of the homes’ owners, who have agreed to let a family live there rent-free for one year.
Andrea Pate, who has been coordinating the relief effort at the church, said the plan offers a way for neighbors to help neighbors with unmet housing needs.
“I thought, ‘Why are we not taking care of our own and putting people in houses?’ Then I sort of had an epiphany one night and said, ‘Well, why aren’t we?’” Pate said.
Pate was inspired by the memory of her own family housing Hurricane Katrina survivors for eight months in two houses they fixed up for that purpose in 2005.
Six structures that will house a total of eight families have been identified since “Flipping for Families” began May 22. Some need extensive repairs while others just need some clean-up.
The first property, which is on Green Avenue, was donated by Traye Pickrell, a high school friend of Pate’s who lives out-of-state.
The empty house belonged to Pickrell’s father, who passed away several years ago.
Pickrell and the other homeowners in the program will be signing contracts with the church as well as a lease with the storm survivors.
They are not paying for any of the repairs and can do what they want with their properties after the one-year free lease expires.
“They get their house back, and we can put people in a home right now until they get back on their feet. It’s a win-win,” Pate said.
Beneficiaries of the program will be decided based on need by the Freewill Baptist Disaster Relief board, which includes three deacons and four community members.
Several church groups, local legislators and organizations such as Walker County Outreach have already volunteered their time to the project.
Pate is currently seeking support from other area groups as well as more properties and supplies such as cabinets, vanities, sheet rock, light fixtures, doors, paint, furniture and appliances.
For more information, call 300-0000.