One look at the tall weeds and boarded-up doors and windows, and it’s clear that it’s been a while since anyone has considered the empty house at 316 N. 20th St. in Portland a home.
But that was before June 22, when two churches — one from around the corner and another from across town — joined forces with a nonprofit, home-improvement organization to begin bringing the structure back from decay.
The house, already earmarked for a needy family, is part of an ongoing western Louisville home improvement project mounted by the fledgling local chapter of the Fuller Center for Housing, a Georgia-based organization formed by Habitat for Humanity founders Millard and Linda Fuller.
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Similar to Habitat for Humanity, the Fuller organization has adopted a similar mission of empowering the impoverished through homeownership. But the Fuller effort focuses largely upon renovation and repair of existing properties.
The Fuller Center also tries to work with a largely volunteer work force to keep administrative overhead to a minimum.
The Portland property, donated to the local group by King Southern Bank, is part of the Louisville group’s effort to build, renovate and repair 1,000 homes using 1,000 volunteers in 1,000 days during its western Louisville blitz.
Bright and early on June 22, members of the youth group of St. Matthews Baptist Church, 3515 Grandview Ave., and of Word of Faith Full Gospel Church, 2013 St. Xavier St., started working on the house. The first day involved clearing weeds, tearing down a metal outbuilding in the back yard and removing boards from windows to allow them light needed to work inside.
The Rev. Les Flemons, senior pastor of Word of Faith, said that the project was a dream come true for his 150-member congregation, which, for now anyway, doesn’t have resources and expertise needed to mount its own home renovation efforts.
Once completed, the family will buy the property from Fuller. Its monthly payments will go into a fund for additional house renovations. Family members are also required, as part of the agreement, to roll up their sleeves and participate in the renovation process.
“It’s kind of like their down payment,” said Alex Crume, a local chapter volunteer who lives in the Iroquois Park area. “But they will be buying the home,” she said of the prospective owners. “We’re not giving it to them. Then we couldn’t afford to help others.”
Last summer, the Louisville group began working on several plots and dilapidated homes in the Shawnee neighborhood’s 28-home Boston Court enclave. For that project, the group purchased two vacant lots and an existing home from the city’s land development bank.
Two additional dilapidated houses at 112 and 118 Boston Court were donated and included in the effort. They are now both being purchased by people who used to be homeless, Crume said.
In addition to improving the Boston Court site, volunteers also established a community garden that last year provided vegetables for neighbors and for the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen on Brook Street.
Visit here to learn more about the Louisville Fuller Center for Housing.