The Union Recorder

October 9, 2013

Habitat completes first Harrisburg surveys

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Habitat for Humanity Milledgeville-Baldwin County held the final Quality of Life survey Tuesday, Sept. 17, for the Harrisburg community. The survey was conducted to identify homeowners’ needs for repair or improvement in their homes, as well as any other the needs of the community and individual homeowners.

There are more than 75 Habitat affiliates in the state, and Harrisburg was chosen as the community in Milledgeville to receive aid from Habitat through the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI).

“This program has been around for about five years now,” said Maggie Milner, Habitat volunteer coordinator. “We are one of eight affiliates in the state of Georgia to be involved with NRI.”

Habitat Executive Director Murali Thirumal said the Harrisburg data set was completed at nearly 70 percent participation, which is better than other comparable NRI communities. The data features 37 homeowner responses on neighborhood satisfaction questions such as safety, public amenities, road and sidewalk maintenance. 

This initial survey phase is a micro sample test run for the NRI.

“This is the end of the beginning phase for this project,” said Thirumal. “From here, we will decide which needs are the most immediate, and we will start there.”

Homeowner Dorothy Reeves and her sister Lois Thomas were two of many people who came out to participate in this survey. The sisters were concerned about the state of the house Reeves is living in and had been exploring different options to have repairs done.

“We have been living in Harrisburg for 49 years,” said Thomas. “The best thing about this place is knowing that when I get back here, I’m really home.”

Thirumal is happy the respondents believe in their neighborhood.

“I’m thrilled they have a good sense of the community because that is the instrument upon which everything rests in terms of community formation,” Thirumal said. “I think they are very fortunate that the Harrisburg community has faith in itself.”

Habitat will take the weakest links, one being inadequate street lighting for example, provided in the survey and work with local government or entities in charge to improve the issue.

The local Habitat affiliate follows an organizational trend that not only builds houses but new communities.

“If you look at these surveys, there is nothing in there asking if you want a new house. It’s about how satisfied are you with your neighborhood,” Thirumal said.

Another aspect of the Harrisburg NRI gauges personal homeowner need. This aspect of “Adopt-A-Home” gathers donor funds to help home improvements for those with the greatest need.

This round covered two small neighborhoods. Now that this micro sample is complete, Habitat will soon open up the survey to the rest of the Harrisburg community.

This event is significant to improving the quality of life for the community. Through NRI, Habitat is able to serve more families by responding to community needs with an expanded array of products, services and partnerships. 

Habitat will compile data to see if quality of life in the neighborhood increases a year later after home improvements are made in the area. 

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