We met as a community interest group to determine if there was a need for this sort of activity in the community.
We identified that there was indeed a need, and interest in meeting it in this fashion.
We formed a steering committee of interested people.
We chose a Board of Directors.
We elected officers of the Board.
We wrote and approved Bylaws.We registered as a nonprofit with the state of Maine.
We began the application process for the 501C3 status.
We began investigating possible alliances with other community organizations (e.g. United Voice, Habitat for Humanity).
We began investigating sources of support including City of Bath, HDA, and USDA.
We formed mentoring relationships with the Genesis Fund and Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
We have begun minimal fundraising efforts for start-up costs through yard sales and personal solicitation.
We opened a free non-profit bank account that can handle PayPal and credit card donations
We have developed a website and a brochure as preliminary outreach and fundraising tools.
We have educated ourselves about the local real estate market and began a search for a suitable property
We have educated ourselves about financial requirements by developing a cash flow projection model.
We have set fundraising goals.
We have completed and filed our application for 501C3 tax exempt status
Once we have been granted 501C3 tax-exempt status, we will be able to raise funds for acquisition of property in earnest. This will include:
solicitation through our website
brochure and website address distribution through personal and professional contacts of the Board members
yard sales and open house events
contacting grant makers and individual donors listed in Maine Philanthropy Network who are interested in projects of our size and type of activity
applying for and obtaining funds through other appropriate grants
Having raised at least $5000 locally, we will have completed the necessary requirements and become eligible for material assistance from Emmaus International.
We will continue investigating local real estate options with the aim of buying the initial property. Our specifications are:
-an empty building in need of renovation within walking distance of downtown Bath, big enough to house a collaborative household of six to eight individuals, who will make up the initial HOMEtogether renovation team.
-within our price range
-ideally in a neighborhood that would welcome the HOMEtogether vision
having several off-street parking spaces or ability to negotiate such space nearby
The next step is acquire a suitable property. Our HOMEtogether Corporation will be the buyer; we will buy the house, or an option to buy, with our $50,000 dollars cash. Since the Companions have a 1/3 representation on the Board of Directors, they will have an ownership stake in the property.
We will apply for a construction loan to be secured by the appraised value of the property. The construction loan will be a line- of- credit for tools and materials to do what is needed to make the building safe and warm and energy-efficient. The work will be done by the HOMEtogether team who will move into the space as soon as feasible and create a “base of operations” for HOMEtogether Bath. The initial renovation team will be comprised of the group of HOMEtogether“Companions”; unemployed or underemployed individuals who agree to pool their energy and skills to pursue this opportunity to create for themselves a place to live and a livelihood
We will be recruiting skilled and unskilled community volunteer involvement through the website, through newspaper and other media publicity, and though personal contacts. We will make an inventory of skills available, and specific local people with special skills (e.g. project manager, licensed tradespersons) will be sought out to manage and teach as needed to form a capable team.
The companions will commit to an honest work week on the project in addition to household responsibilities, in exchange for all living expenses and a reasonable pocket- money allowance. Everybody involved in the project will learn from it, gaining hard and soft skills that will serve them well when they are ready to leave, and making themselves known as valuable members of the community through the quality of their work and through our various outreach activities.
The project manager (7 Rivers Habitat can help us find one) will organize volunteers from the community to work together with the companions and with and any licensed tradespeople that we may need. The project manager is also responsible for seeing that tools and supplies are ready and that the site is safe and orderly. Some Habitat Project Managers are paid, some are not.
As we approach the completion of the renovation work on this first house, we will begin to look for another abandoned and dilapidated building in need of renovation, so that we can repeat the process to make a home for a low-income family in need of shelter. The companions having created their own living space will now take the team on the road to renovate new buildings, one by one, to house homeless families.
There are State and Federal programs available to reclaim abandoned rural housing, (Bath is rural!) and we expect to have generated some local enthusiasm as well. This will be the enterprise that will generate income to support the HOMEtogether household.
At some point, the process may need to be replicated to accommodate a second community of working companions to expand the work of the initial renovation team and continue with the work when the original companions leave the HOMEtogether community to find paying jobs with their new skills.
The families benefiting from this reclaimed housing will be chosen according to the Emmaus principle of serving first those who are most in need.
Keep abreast of HOMEtogether activities and progress at our website, www.hometogether.org