My Wishes for 2021

January 14, 2021
by Caroline Blakely, President and CEO at Rebuilding Together National

There is no doubt that 2020 was a challenging year; however, a new year allows for new beginnings and brings the opportunity to refocus ourselves on the all important work of Rebuilding Together. Last year Rebuilding Together released our first impact measurement study, which looks at the difference we are making in our communities and the lives of our neighbors. Since then, we have been working to determine the direction of the organization in 2021 and strategically think about where our impact is most needed.

I look forward to working with my fellow [Re]Builders this year to:

  • Bring the mission of Rebuilding Together to new communities and strengthen our work in communities where we are already working.

In order to continue creating lasting impact for communities nationwide, we must provide increase support to our Rebuilding Together teams on the ground and further bring sustainability to our network. We must further better prepare ourselves and our communities to mitigate and recover from natural disasters. We are also looking at areas of the country where Rebuilding Together is not yet present and will work with leaders in those communities to create a local model that will serve local neighbors through our mission.

  • Provide deeper services that strengthen our communities.

The intersection of housing and our country's deep problems of racial discrimination and segregation are raising the importance of housing as a platform for racial equity. We must, through our work, create a seat at the table for community leaders and work with them in an equitable and inclusive way to meet the needs of each community. Part of this work means better equipping ourselves to be a trusted community partner.

Rebuilding Together is working on becoming active listeners. Our experience has shown us that the complex problems found in economically distressed and underserved neighborhoods requires trust building and intentional, coordinated partnerships in target communities to improve quality of life for our neighbors. To that end, we are also developing meaningful national community partnerships for wraparound services (e.g., financial education, mental health services, work placement and workforce development) that will provide more comprehensive impact in each community where we work.

  • Create a framework that double downs on the impact we provide to our neighbors in need.

With COVID-19 impacting every home across the country, we have more evidence than ever that housing is a top social determinant of health and improving substandard housing is an effective and efficient way to improve health outcomes. This year we are planning to improve the quality of services and outcomes of our Safe at Home program through education and training for our teams on the ground, hereby increasing knowledge of home safety assessments, program evaluation and home modification design protocols supported by evidence. This work will be homeowner-centered and account for interactions among the home environment, behavior and physical functioning of the resident so that services can be tailored to the individual, deepening the impact of our work on the quality of life for each of our neighbors served.

Above all else we must continue to measure and demonstrate our value. The impact measurement study we released last year was a first step and we will in 2021 develop tools to showcase our impact in communities where we work. We are all in this together; the well-being of our neighbors and communities depends on us. I look forward to growing the impact of Rebuilding Together in 2021, working and learning together to strengthen our communities and making homes safer for our neighbors in need.