Home is where the heart is! James Barlow, the President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, was live on Instagram with Green Living Magazine. He talked about his mission of bringing people together to build homes, hopes and community. He continues to be an innovator and leader for Habitat, in addition to enjoying his part-time golf hobby and traveling. He has turned Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona to what it is today. Green Living Magazine brings you all of the deets from this exclusive live conversation with Publisher Dorie Morales!
Read more from their live here:
1. What motivated you to get involved with Habitat for Humanity, and what do you consider to be the organization’s most significant achievements in Central Arizona to date?
“What motivated me was the mission of Habitat. We bring people together to build homes, community and hopes- we try to make sure that everyone has a decent place to live, we’re actually doing a lot more repairs now that we are doing new homes for families, which is exciting for us because we’re able to reach more families in need and the most important thing Habitat is doing is that it’s getting out and serving people that are below the poverty line, with very low income and residence those who cannot afford services to their house so we are able to get in and help these people with their repairs and problems so that they can live in their house safely and successfully without any health damage done to them. ”
2. How long ago did you start the program?
“It has been about seven years and what a lot of people don’t know about right at the moment is that we‘re emphasizing on continuing our neighborhood preservation programs and our health repair program for veterans and elderly.”
3. Habitat for Humanity aims to assist in creating affordable, sustainable housing. Can you tell us more about the organization’s efforts to integrate environmentally friendly practices into their building projects?
“It’s actually in our charter to build sustainably while recycling and keep it away from the landfills so the way we are living up to that is through our new builds, repairs and restores. We provide LEED certified homes in our new builds and all of our homes are constructed with high energy standards. We just figured it wouldn’t make sense if we put families in affordable houses, but it takes up all their money and energy bills. We’re doing the repairs the same way. They are high energy efficient double pane windows and roofs, doors, HVAC systems, water, water flow regulators, all that stuff on any new repair that we’re doing. And then finally, we have our restores for restoring purposes, think Home Depot meets Goodwill. These are like thrift stores for household maintenance and supplies and their primary ambition is to keep stuff from landfill, so they’ll take donations from people and give you a tax receipt. We’ll sell it in our stores, tax free and that stuff usually stays out of the landfill. This is done on a case-to-case basis based on the condition of the material.
Also our deconstruction program – we will go into your home/office building ahead of a remodel. We will remove the stuff ahead of your remodel before the actual contractor getting in there, and give you a donation receipt. Contractors love us because they love to just come into a kitchen that’s ready to just install the new cabinets. And most any of our four Habitat ReStores will have quite a few cabinet displays and mounds of cabinets that have come out of people’s kitchens and bathrooms, as well as toilets, ceiling fans, light fixtures. In Paradise Valley, you can imagine that stuff just ending up in the landfill being versus coming in and being sold in a store. We don’t charge anything. It’s free.
We come in and take, take it out. Well, that’s great. And last year by the way, we calculate an estimated 4.4 million pounds of waste was diverted from the waste stream and I say waste, but it was perfectly decent stuff that other families could use were sold in our restores through our deconstruction program and our donation program.”
4. As a leading non-profit organization, what do you think is Habitat for Humanity’s role in promoting green living and sustainability in local communities?
“Well, I see it as a very important part of our mission and everybody I can talk to, in fact. I just met with a design builder yesterday and I told him, “These are the kinds of things we’re doing.” I don’t believe he knew about it. Much of anything Habitat was doing. And so, my job as the CEO is to keep getting out there and telling more and more people about what Habitat can be, and we can be a role model in in developing and building to green standards and the high energy efficiency using all the latest techniques.”
5. Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona has faced funding challenges during the pandemic. How has the organization adapted its operations to continue serving the community, particularly in terms of sustainable housing solutions?
We like everybody else, when COVID hit, we didn’t know what to expect. We hit the pause button for about two months. And got the PP necessary to continue but once we had our processes and procedures in place to keep our volunteers safe, we continued to press on and we’ve continued to build pretty much straight through the COVID. Then, we started a curb side delivery that morphed into an e-commerce business in which you can go online and you can look right into what we have online for sale. It prevents from ending up in the dumps and give people an opportunity to see and buy on it. And you can either pick it up or we’ll mail it to you, much like Amazon. We have posts on Amazon and eBay and some other locations as well. Another interesting thing, we’re now receiving the lost luggage from Sky Harbor Airport, so if you lose your luggage, the authorities are giving it to Habitat and we are selling it in our Habitat ReStores and online in our e-commerce business. You can’t believe what people just abandon at airports.
6. How can individuals and communities interested in promoting affordable, green housing get involved with Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona? What types of donations or volunteer efforts are particularly needed currently?
“Well, the easiest way is to go online to our website, habitatcaz.org and you could shop, donate, volunteer, hit any of those buttons, and you can find a Habitat ReStore location. you can sign up to come build with us too. Last year we had over 13,000 volunteers come out and work with Habitat all across the Valley on projects, either new home construction or renovations preservations.”
7. Do you have corporate where corporations or companies could get involved if they wanted to volunteer?
“Oh, sure. Yeah, that’s another one of the things we do. We activate groups. I think the largest was Quicken. Six hundred volunteers over four days down in South Phoenix. And we worked on something. Like 20 projects over those four days. So, we’re well equipped to bring in corporations who may have an afternoon off of a conference. They want to give back to the community or, you know, whatever the circumstances are.
“One more thing, we are one of the qualifying charities, so a single person can give $400 and a couple $800 comes right off your Arizona tax liability, comes directly in to helping Habitat build and repair. So, if you’re in a big corporation organization that has a lot of employees, they could together use the Arizona tax credit program to fund and build a home in partnership with the family and Habitat. We cover pretty much all America and Northern panel. We are the third largest affiliate in the country, LA and New York City are bigger than us, but we’re still the number one affiliate in the country for serving families each year. That’s due to all of our partners, our support, our amazing volunteers.”
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