In 2019, Love City Strong (LCS) and its partners committed to expand upon the Resilient Housing Initiative (RHI) to support and additional 30 vulnerable residents on St. John in rebuilding storm-hardened homes. Though each build is unique, all homes are built to current or better than VI building codes; built with non-corrosive materials; sanitized and sealed during the building process to protect from mold/mold spore growth; and built with integrated hurricane straps into roofs, improved water catchment systems, and improved safety features inside and outside the home (such as concrete access ramps, grab bars in showers, and exterior safety lighting).
Each build requires a unique approach and scope that is specific to the site. The scope may include everything from full rebuilds to minor roof repairs, and as a result can cost between $125,000 - $200,000. LCS will work with the Disaster Case Management team at the St. John Community Foundation to identify target homes. Disaster case managers will confirm that the home belongs to a St. John resident that is a senior, low- or middle-income or single parent family, a pregnant woman, homebound individual, a resident with a disability, or a resident with non-emergency medical needs.
LCS will work to coordinate all fundraising efforts, contractor assignments, purchasing, renting, storing and management of necessary construction supplies, equipment and property, as well as coordinating the efforts of private and non-profit partners. As the coordinating body, LCS will work to leverage the resources and skill sets of all the partners to ensure that the rebuilds are streamlined and completed efficiently and expeditiously. All rebuilds will utilize three local contractors that employ dozens of local residents on their crews and as subcontractors. LCS will pay these contractors to execute the builds. LCS will contribute their labor force to the construction efforts on each site.
Quarterly updates will be generated by LCS that detail the number of homes rebuilt, number of homes in
progress, number of homes that have been fully vetted and awaiting rebuild, and a running expenditure list grouped by expense category (e.g. materials, labor, shipping, etc.). The identification of the homes will occur on an on-going basis throughout the duration of the commitment.
$4,000,000 Fundraising Action for total completion of commitment (30 homes)
2019 Quarter 3 Milestones:
14 homes rebuilt
7 homes in progress
9 homes vetted and awaiting rebuild
2019 Quarter 4 Milestones:
21 homes rebuilt
7 homes in progress
2 homes vetted and awaiting rebuild
2020 Quarter 1 Milestones:
28 homes rebuilt
2 homes in progress
0 homes vetted and awaiting rebuild
Hundreds of homes on St. John were partially or completely demolished by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The USVI Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates up to 74% of low- and middle-income residential structures on the island were damaged.
Although there has been a tremendous amount of federal aid and public assistance dispersed to residents throughout the Territory, navigating these complicated systems is an arduous and difficult process for the most vulnerable residents. As a result, a large number of seniors, low-income, and homebound individuals have been denied public assistance or have simply given up; unwilling or unable to appeal public assistance decisions. In addition, housing repair in the aftermath of a disaster is one of the most onerous parts of recovery, and St. John is no exception. Sitting on a small island at the end of the supply chain, the logistical challenges are many, and they are extremely costly. The widespread destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria has brought labor to a premium in the Territory; building materials have increased in price by double digit percent margins due to high demand; professional builds that are licensed and are either built to or exceeding current USVI building codes bring additional unforeseen costs, as codes have not been enforced by the local government since many of these homes were built decades ago.
Therefore, to ensure that seniors, low- and middle-income and single parent families, pregnant women, homebound individuals, residents with a disability, and residents with non-emergency medical needs can rebuild their homes and continue to call St. John home, Love City Strong (LCS) and its partners launched the Resilient Housing Initiative (RHI) in September 2018. RHI bridges the gap between available federal resources and the reality of construction costs in the Territory. Since the launch of RHI, LCS has successfully rebuilt 10 homes in the community; 8 belonging to senior citizens and 2 belonging to families with small children or infants.