“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35
THE GREATER BLESSING PROGRAM is designed to help low income homeowners, often the elderly and handicapped, do basic health and safety repairs to their homes. In many cases these repairs allow the homeowner to stay in a house that they might otherwise be forced to leave.
The program allows for repairs costing up to $5,000 in materials and professional labor. Most of the work is done by volunteers at no cost to the homeowner. There are no loan documents with this program. Instead, the homeowner is asked to repay the costs, over time and with no interest charged, on terms they can afford. Their payments stay in the community to assist other families and the homeowner gets the Greater Blessing of giving back.
A key component of the program is the Greater Blessing Box. Once the costs have been established, the homeowner, working with the Family Partnering Committee, determines an amount that they can pay each month. The total costs are then divided by that amount to determine the number of payments to be made. When the work is completed and dedicated, the family receives a Greater Blessing Box containing envelopes for each monthly payment.
REQUIREMENTS: The beneficiary must own and occupy the home, have income at 50% or less of the local median, have no other resources with which to make the repairs, and have sufficient income to repay the construction costs.
ASSESSMENT OF NEED: The Construction Committee will meet with the homeowner to determine the scope of health and safety work required and develop a construction budget. Care should be taken to look for underlying issues that are so often found in older homes and can greatly increase the construction costs. As this program is intended for projects costing no more than $5,000 in materials and professional labor, the committee may determine that the property’s needs exceed that amount and that it won’t qualify.
PAPERWORK: While there is no loan document with a Greater Blessing repair, the homeowner does need to complete an application and enter into a contractual understanding about the scope, nature, and provisions of the program. Examples of these documents can be found in this section of the Operations Manual.
Some ask why these projects aren’t done for free. To this Millard Fuller replied, “My thought is that charity home repair programs are good, but they are deficient theologically because, if you believe that giving is more blessed than receiving, the recipients in such programs are denied the greater blessing. In our work, we do not want to deny that greater blessing and that is why we give the recipients the opportunity to give something back.”
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