Revisions to Homeowner Prioritization Criteria

Just as our community evolves, so do we.

Part of evolving means ongoing review of our application, prioritization, and selection processes to ensure we meet the greatest needs with the resources available. As part of a recent review process, our operations team made a recommendation to the board of directors for revised prioritization and selection criteria for homeowners on the waiting list, which were adopted in January 2022.

These changes bring positive change for those waiting for repairs. Positive changes include:

  • Allow consideration of both the condition of the home as well as the unique needs of residents
  • Provide more opportunities for an applicant to achieve prioritization
  • Allow for more efficient internal processes
  • Reduces the number of application questions

No changes have been made to qualification criteria. At this time, we only repair homes in Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, or Pickens County. We do not repair a home which is the primary residence a registered sex offender.

Currently, there are more than 1,200 homeowners on our waiting list. When you hear the term “waiting list” what comes to mind?

Perhaps the idea of a list connotes imagery of a line. A line typically works on a first-come, first-serve basis. Our program is anything but that. Instead of imaging a line, imagine a funnel. A funnel is a much better way to approach our prioritization process, here’s why:

First, the entry point of a funnel is big enough to accommodate varying reasons someone might ask for help. One person may request assistance because there is a hole in the floor while another may need help making a bathroom accessible.

Second, a funnel demonstrates how an applicant moves throughout our process as they meet prioritization criteria. The narrowing of the funnel mirrors the narrowing of the criteria an applicant needs to meet to move forward.

Lastly, at its narrowest point, an applicant exits in the funnel as they are selected for repairs because they have the greatest need we can meet with our current available resources.

Using prioritization criteria is a best practice recommended by the Coalition for Home Repair. It’s not unique to our industry either. As an organization, we often navigate focus areas when we seek funding for a family foundation or corporate grants program. It’s not unusual for a funder to set focus areas or values. Defining values helps a funder choose where to invest when the demand is greater than the available resources. The use of prioritization criteria isn’t new to our program, in fact, we’ve used varying prioritization criteria for years. Changes to those criteria right now are simply reflective of a growing program in a growing community with a growing demand for services.

New 2021 Prioritization Criteria

The revised prioritization criteria focus on three main areas:

    1. Evaluating needs of specific households and residents
    2. Evaluating the physical and environmental safety of a home
    3. Availability of resources

First Prioritization Area: Needs of a household or specific resident

With 1,200+ applicants currently waiting for repairs, evaluating needs of specific households and residents isn’t easy. No family is the same. When we consider the needs of a household, we look at things like income, physical ability of residents, age, how long they’ve been waiting for repairs, and accessibility modifications for a specific resident.

We prioritize repairs for homes with children, older adults, and households who are at 50% or less of Area Median Income. Additionally, homes with residents living with a physical disability or who are at risk of fall or injury due to physical ability are prioritized. As a household meets these criteria, they move down the funnel.

Under these criteria, an older adult who is unable to get into a bathtub or shower safely would be prioritized. The household would be prioritized further if the older adult were the primary caregiver for a child who lives in the home.

Another example of a person-focused priority is if a person who uses a wheelchair cannot fit the wheelchair through a doorway. This person would be further prioritized if their household income is less than 50% of Area Median Income.

Second Prioritization Area: Physical and environmental safety of a home

Just like no family is the same, no house is the same. When we consider the needs of a home, we consider environmental and physical safety regardless of a person’s age or ability. Environmental safety prioritizes needs such as mold, asbestos, no running water, lead paint, or sewage backup. Physical safety prioritization ensures repairs are prioritized where the home presents a risk of injury or harm. This may be a hole in a floor, bare electrical wires, inoperable windows, and/or inability to close or lock doors.

If a home has physical or environmental safety hazards, or both, they can move further down the funnel.

Third Prioritization Area: Available Resources

Resources might be direct funding or it may be availability of a volunteer group. We navigate multiple funding sources for our program including unrestricted funding from our annual budget. Each external funding source brings its own restrictions. This may add external variables when selecting applicants for repairs. For example, some funding may be restricted to a homeowner over the age of 60. Another may restrict funding to someone who lives in Greenville County. Another may restrict funding to veterans.

Does having a prioritization criteria mean someone will automatically receive repairs?

Not necessarily.

As an applicant meets prioritization criteria, they move through the funnel. They don’t exit the funnel until it’s their turn to receive home repairs. Availability of funding plays a role in deciding which household is next. We can’t repair a home with resources we don’t have. Our waiting list changes each day. Applicants are constantly being removed as it’s their turn for repairs while new applicants are entering the funnel by completing an application.

When an applicant is selected for repairs, it’s because they have the greatest need we can meet with our current available resources.

What comes next?

The real work begins. Our team starts planning repairs, contractors are secured as needed, and volunteers help with a build day. We continue to accept applications and provide repairs with the resources we have.

Do you need to make a referral for home repairs? Make a referral here.

Do you have questions about our prioritization criteria? Rose Davis is available to meet with you. Contact Rosey at [email protected].