By Chris Johnson
Director of communications
The Fuller Center for Housing does not build with government funds. It’s the way founder Millard Fuller wanted it. He preferred the financial path to building be from Jesus to your heart to the home with as few stops as possible along the way.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with utilizing government funds, but it comes with a lot of red tape, sometimes enough red tape to keep you from achieving a goal. Our goal is to help people achieve the dream of affordable home ownership, pure and simple.
But, governments, especially city governments, can still play a significant role in helping us achieve our goal. Usually, we find city leaders such as mayors and councilors to be supporters of our work. After all, who is against helping people achieve home ownership with a hand-up approach? No one seems to be against helping people help themselves.
And when we get city leaders to truly understand what we do and how it can benefit their city’s neighborhoods — making them look good in the process — they become enthusiastic supporters of our work.
One of those enthusiastic supporters is Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Ky., where our Fuller Center of Louisville covenant partner carries the flag for our Save a House/Make a Home initiative. Our Louisville crowd is quite experienced in turning vacant houses into new homes and, in doing so, resurrecting a once-proud neighborhood that had been dragged down by vacant homes and the many problems they draw into a community — such as drugs, crime and falling home prices.
At last week’s home dedication for Carolyn Mayes (which you can read about here), his genuine appreciation for The Fuller Center’s work was evident. More impressive is that he gets it. It’s so refreshing when a politician gets it. He truly understands the value of our giving vacant houses new life, and he demonstrates an earnest fondness for the many people who partner in Louisville to make such community renewal possible.
(Click here to watch this video produced by the City of Louisville, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Oh, by the way, you’ll also hear one of the most inspiring invocations ever given by a pastor at a Fuller Center home dedication, and that’s truly saying something!)
During the dedication, the mayor introduced one of the many partners who make such home dedications possible — Frank Miller. Miller is a developer who purchases foreclosed properties and improves them. That’s his business. But he also is generous, and he donated this property that has become a home for Ms. Mayes and three family members. Miller attended the dedication, but he wasn’t there to speak or to be recognized as the donor. But upon learning of Miller’s intention to donate one property a year to The Fuller Center, the mayor insisted Miller come to the microphone. Mayor Fischer then noted that it’s people like Miller and all those gathered around who show that one person can make a difference.
When you look at the massive, scary statistics concerning America’s housing crisis, it’s hard to believe that one person can make a difference. But a whole bunch of one persons truly can, and, thankfully, people like Mayor Fischer, Frank Miller and our hard-working friends and supporters in Louisville get it.