Toyota, Habitat for Humanity celebrate 11-year partnership with 14th home in Ypsi Township

Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley recently celebrated 11 years of partnership with Ann Arbor-based Toyota Motor North America Research and Development by completing renovation work on two Ypsilanti Township homes.


Over 300 Toyota volunteers spent 13 weeks renovating the homes on Woodruff Lane, marking the 13th and 14th houses that Toyota volunteers have helped build or renovate in the township.


Leah Borst, development associate for corporate and faith relations for Habitat, says Toyota volunteers have donated thousands of volunteer hours during the 11-year partnership.


"Long-standing partnerships like this (are) why we're able to continue to do the work we do," Borst says. "You can't change a neighborhood overnight. You need years of work with committed partners."


Habitat renovations typically are in-depth and include making sure electrical and plumbing systems are up to building code standards.


“We’re not talking about a fresh coat of paint and some minor repairs,” says Toyota community relations consultant Praveena Ramaswami. “It’s a full gut and go, all the way down to the studs of the frame."


Habitat Huron Valley has renovated a total of 18 houses so far in 2018 and has assisted about 1,000 homeowners through various home building or home improvement programs.


Borst says the neighborhood where the two latest homes were renovated, near Appleridge Park, was a newer area for Habitat projects. Most of Habitat's previous homebuilding and renovation efforts have been in Ypsi Township's West Willow, Sugarbrook, or Gault Village neighborhoods.


Borst notes that Habitat has priced itself out of Gault Village. Due to residents' efforts to improve the neighborhood, plus Habitat's work there, housing prices have risen and the nonprofit can't afford to buy houses to rehab in Gault Village anymore.


Borst says that's part of Habitat's strategic plan. The goal isn't just to rehab a few houses but to help entire neighborhoods.


"We've done over 30 homes there, and the community work done there has increased the value, leading to the marketing going up in that neighborhood to the point that they are above our budget," Borst says. "It's a model for what we'd like to do across Ypsilanti Township and across the county."


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the interim project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She has served as innovation and jobs/development news writer for Concentrate since early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to Driven. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.


Photos courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Huron Valley.

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