A Fairburn-based nonprofit is helping neighbors by providing home repair services to those most in need throughout south Fulton County.
The Nehemiah Project Community Development Center has been improving the quality of living for residents of south Fulton County, Clayton County and the city of Atlanta since 2002. Their mission is to help with housing, economic development, health and education. The nonprofit started as an extension of Harvest Rain Church International which is known for programs such as Project R.O.C.K (Reaching Our Community Kids) Christmas and Thanksgiving Outreach, A Bountiful Harvest Food Pantry, and Harvest Rain Early Learning Academy in Fairburn.
“The project was initially inspired by Pastor Doug Thompson’s lifelong dream to train, mentor, and equip young men in the various trades of home building, and to provide them with skills and employment to assist in the development and renovation of decent and affordable housing for low income individuals,” said CEO Ingrid Thompson.
In 2012, the nonprofit began partnering with Project Extend, a Home Repair Program in Atlanta, to meet the growing request and demands for home repairs in south Fulton.
“Minor repair projects in south Fulton became an even greater demand for low income seniors,” said Thompson. “While annual projects continued, the need for funding became necessary and Nehemiah Project became a separate nonprofit to meet the funding needs of the organization. Since 2018, Nehemiah Project has expanded its reach to the city of Atlanta and Clayton County providing services such as affordable housing for low-income citizens, financial literacy, employment, homeownership workshops, health initiatives, energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades and education, and home repairs at no cost.”
Recently, Fulton County resident Rhoda Brawner got a helping hand from the nonprofit. In 2012 during Atlanta’s historic ice storms, one of the main pipes in her home burst, causing extensive damage to her basement and eventually making it impossible to turn on the faucets in her house. The broken pipe cost thousands to repair and it wasn’t long before Brawner got behind on her water bill. Unsure of where to turn for help, Brawner resorted to catching rainwater and using it to flush the toilets. In order to bathe, she and her children were forced to use the showers at a local gym.
The family went for a total of seven years without running water.
Having been denied assistance more than once, Brawner said she was desperate for help when she reached out to the Nehemiah Project. The nonprofit agreed to help Brawner and her family and within 30 days, a new hot water heater, water and sewer lines were installed in her home. In addition, the installation of a new tub, new toilets, new bathroom vanity, new kitchen sink and dishwasher were provided at no cost to her family.
“Nehemiah (helped) when it seemed like the whole world had walked out. They came in, they were so happy to help me and I didn’t have anything to worry about,” said Brawner.
According to Thompson, the nonprofit has immediate plans to continue helping the community through providing affordable and sustainable rental and for sale housing for low-moderate income individuals and families; assisting low income seniors, veterans, and disabled home owners with home repairs; rehabilitating distressed properties and provide affordable housing for very low to moderate low income families and single parents with young children; restoring, reviving and reshaping the community by establishing partnerships between churches, businesses, and governmental entities in the areas of health, education and economic development; and providing and developing a community offense against crime by assisting disadvantaged young adults in completing their education and providing young men with construction training and employment.
“There are thousands of people in this area who are just like Rhoda Brawner. We want to help as many as we can,” said Thompson.
So far, the nonprofit has completed more than 52 home repairs for low income seniors, completed 186 plumbing repairs, helped three families become homeowners and provided hundreds of people with financial literacy and water conservation education.
Sponsors and partners of Nehemiah Project include City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, City of Atlanta HUD/Community Development Block Grant, Clayton County HUD/Community Development Block Grant, The Home Depot, Wells Fargo, Grey Stone, Owens Corning, PPG, Hands On Atlanta, The Perry Foundation, City National Bank, United Way/AFL-CIO, The Mary Allen Lindsey Branan Foundation, SEEL, LLC and the Thanks Mom and Dad Fund.
“If one person in a community is suffering, that impacts the entire community and that’s why we’ve made community development our focus,” Thompson said.
For more information, visit www.nehemiahprojectcdc.org.