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 PBS Demonstration: Affordable Property Rehab That's Invisible
This project is being chronicled by a film crew for use in 2011-2012 as a Public Broadcasting Service ('PBS') special presentation on innovative approaches to community development in America.

Some photos of the two projects included in the program, and the film crew, are on this Photo Gallery.

These innovations include the manner in which they are selected and funded, the manner in which they are built, and the manner in which they are managed. The program looks at the symbiotic partnerships between the grass roots organizations, like HOPZ, that develop the projects, and the financial organizations that support the work, and the suppliers of goods and innovative services that help make the projects more affordable, and more palatable to the host communities.

In the Spring of 2011 HOPZ will complete the most extensive renovation we've ever done on a single property. Located in Central New Jersey, the goal is to simultaneously demonstrate a number of concepts to local government officials, as well as housing advocates, banks, and builders.

To protect the privacy of the ultimate owners or occupants of the property, we will not identify its location. It's in an established community of modest homes. As with most areas, housing prices have skyrocketed in recent years, and these older houses, in a less desirable part of town, and in poor condition, are still unaffordable by working class families.

This project hopes to demonstrate several concepts simultaneously:

1. It is entirely possible to rehabilitate a dilapidated house, that was acquired by tax foreclosure, into a very attractive, modern, safe dwelling, in two-thirds the time it would take to build a new "stick" house, and for at least 15% less than the final fair market appraisal.

2. Just because a property is "affordable" does not mean it has to look barren, or that it can't have nice landscaping, or that it can't employ innovations and energy-efficiencies. They aren't camouflaged, they're built to be equal or slightly nicer than their neighbors. They are invisible, but not hidden. In other words, if an "affordable" rehab is so intended, it can and will be a net gain to the neighborhood, indistinguishable from every other house on the street.

3. Just because a property is "affordable" does not mean that the inhabitants will be undesirable. When working class families are provided an opportunity to live in the same neighborhoods as higher income groups, and when they are not stigmatized as being "special" in some way, they are likely to adopt the same lifestyles, mannerisms, and social beliefs. They will adopt to their social environment.

4. When the fit, finish and furnishing of "affordable" homes are the same type and quality as the other homes on the block, the property will appraise for valuation purposes at the same level as comparable existing properties. It will not decrease surrounding property values.

5. Contrary to some "conventional wisdom", suppliers of quality furniture and building materials will cooperate with community development programs when offered a reasonable opportunity to do so. We mean small private companies, not just public corporations who have charitable giving programs because they "must do it for good PR". Suppliers can't be expected to lose money, but most will gladly reduce their profit margins considerably, on a limited basis, in return for some publicity, but more importantly in return for proof that their good deeds are being used for the purposes that they support in their communities. What comes around goes around, and business people know this as well as the rest of us. Let's give them more credit.

After the initial construction phase of this project is complete, we will follow the new inhabitants as they furnish the home, complete exterior landscaping, build a garage, and integrate into the social fabric of their neighborhood.

Product Placements in PBS Television Special

We will acknowledge the generosity of our supporters, including providers of goods and services. In addition to Donation Letters that may provide tax deductions (ask your tax advisor please), we strive to publicize the involvement of our supporters in the media, as well as when communicating with government officials.

When we believe that a particular product or service is truly exemplary in its innovation, application, or value proposition, we will promote that fact without seeking any consideration. This is not a commercial enterprise. The purpose of this project is to advocate for greater acceptance of affordable housing renovations, and to demonstrate that they can be done in an expeditious, cost effective manner, while still employing the same construction finishes, and quality interior furnishings, that the nearby "private" houses use.

Product placements are promotional ads that place commercial products in media, in exchange for promotional "consideration". We do not gratuitously place brands or "plugs" in our projects.

However we are permitted to mention the provider names and product brands that we use in our projects, especially when we believe these are innovative or cost effective solutions that we believe others should consider for their own projects.

When a product is especially interesting, our producers may create a vinette "side bar" that highlights the product, or the way it is used, as well as how or where it is made. HOPZ has no control over these production decisions, and if they are created, whether they will ultimately be included in the final production.

If we invited you to participate in our project, perhaps by providing materials at a discount, it will not have been for purely economic reasons, but rather that we believe your products are innovative or especially cost effective, or are somehow distinctive and add value to our project. It behooves you to stress these "points of differentiation" when asked about your products.

Similarly, when we name the products or providers included in this project, these segments may be edited or eliminated in the final production. When products are donated or significantly discounted in support of our work, we advise the producers and ask that they allow promotional consideration. They have indicated a propensity to accept these acknowledgements, since they themselves are funded by contributions and other non-commercial support. But ultimately, we have very little editorial control over the final production.

Please Support Our Work

HOPZ is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation. Donations are tax deductible to the extent of their full fair market value. Sales below cost may be partially tax deductible.

For more information, please contact Jay Wolfkind
at (732) 530-9601, extension 11, or click here to send Jay Wolfkind an email.
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