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Questions & Answers of the Volunteer Housing Repair Program

We hope that the following "Questions and Answers" will tell you the basics about how the program works.   For additional information, or to submit a project call the Office of Community Development at 389-3039, and ask for our Housing Intake Officer.

What Kinds of Repairs Can be Assisted Through this Program?

The program can assist with minor housing repairs that can typically be done by unskilled or semi-skilled volunteer workers.  (We'll, of course, be more than happy to consider projects involving a volunteer work force of persons skilled in housing construction.)  Typical projects include such things as house painting, minor carpentry, roofing repair, wheelchair ramps.

What Kind of Repairs Are Not Assisted?

The program does not assist with repairs that would require construction permits (such as building, plumbing and electrical permits) unless those repairs are done under the direct supervision of a licensed contractor who takes out the necessary permits as required by ordinances.

What Kind of Assistance is Provided?

For approved projects, the Office of Community Development (OCD) provides the necessary materials and supplies for the job (e.g., painting materials, lumber, roofing material, etc.).  The materials are provided to the homeowner, at no cost, and on condition that the owner agrees to allow the organization to make the repairs.  Acquisition and delivery of the materials is handled by OCD in accordance with the volunteer work schedule for the project.  During its consideration of a project, OCD will review the house and planned repairs and assist with developing a list of the quantities and types of materials needed.

Tools and Equipment?

We're unable to provide power or hand tools, nor equipment, for the repair work.  Those items need to be obtained by the sponsoring organization.   Some types of supplies can be included, for example paint brushes, scrappers, drop cloths, cleaning materials.

How is the Homeowner Selected?

Sponsoring organizations typically select the person whom they want to assist.  If a group does not have a particular person in mind, OCD can refer possible candidates.  For referrals, the sponsor should identify any particular types of repairs that it is prepared to undertake, any preferred household  characteristics (e.g., elderly, handicapped, single mother, etc.), any preferred neighborhood, or other preferences.

Other Homeowner Selection Requirements?

The assisted person must be considered low income, according to income definitions, according to family size, of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  OCD makes this eligibility determination during the course of considering the volunteer project.  OCD obtains an application from the homeowner, makes the determination, and notifies the sponsor.  However, specific applicant information is considered confidential, and is not released to the sponsor unless the applicant specifically requests in writing that it be released.

What is Generally Expected of the Sponsor?

The sponsor needs to recruit a sufficient volunteer work force to satisfactorily and timely complete the planned repairs.  A contact representative with whom OCD can coordinate activities is required, and a qualified repair coordinator (if different from the contact representative) needs to be identified for oversight of the volunteer work. Please refer to OCD's VHP "Sponsor Guide" page for more information on what is expected of the sponsor or sponsoring organization.

What Kinds of Organizations May Sponsor a Program?

Pretty much any kind.  Sponsors can be non-profit organizations, for-profits/business, faith- based organizations, or other types of neighborhood-based organizations.

How Does a Sponsor Get Started with OCD?

Simply call (389-3039) and ask to speak to our housing intake officer, or write to us at: Office of Community Development, P.O. Box 1471, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.   Although not required, it is often a good idea for the sponsor's representative to meet with OCD staff early in the process in order to discuss project plans.

OCD should be contacted several weeks in advance of the planned work.  We need to complete the person's eligibility application and review the house and planned repairs before committing to providing the materials.   From there, materials need to purchased and delivered so as to fit the volunteer repair schedule.  It is not necessary to have a firm repair date in mind at the time of initial contact.

What Happens Upon OCD Project Approval?

The sponsor's contact representative is notified, and the volunteer repair schedule is confirmed.  There is a set of "Sponsor Guidelines" that are presented to the organization, and which must be agreed to before the start of the repair work.  As a part of the homeowner application approval, the owner also signs an agreement to allow the planned repairs to be performed through the sponsor.