Rebuilding Together Atlanta (RTA), a non-profit striving to preserve and revitalize low-income homes, celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2017. Organized locally in 1992, RTA is part of the national Rebuilding Together organization, which has a mission of “bringing volunteers and communities together to improve the homes and lives of low-income homeowners.”
In honor of its anniversary, RTA is rehabbing 25 homes for families, seniors and military veterans.This includes critical home repairs, accessibility modifications and energy-efficient upgrades to ensure a safe and healthy living environment.
“We are thrilled to celebrate 25 years of service by doing what we do best – restoring 25 homes for deserving people in need,” says RTA Executive Director Camille Kesler.
A wife and mother of three children, Kesler lives in North Druid Hills and is no stranger to leading organizations that give back to the community. She served as president for both the Junior League of Atlanta (JLA) and the Atlanta Symphony Associates and is currently president of The University of Georgia College of Family & Consumer Sciences Alumni Board. In fact, it was her involvement with JLA that introduced Kesler to RTA years ago.
“I will never forget the first time I volunteered for RTA through its partnership with JLA. It was for an elderly homeowner and I helped paint. I’m not sure if the homeowner was happier to have the repairs or to simply have people to talk to. Many low-income seniors are housebound and don’t get visitors. One of the things I value about RTA is that we are providing free repairs to those in need, and we’re telling them they are not only worthy of our help, but friendship too.”
According to a 2016 U.S. Census Bureau report, the national homeownership rate declined over the past decade to 63.7 percent – the lowest rate since 1965. Coupled with an estimated 20.7 million low-income U.S. homeowners today, preserving affordable homeownership is critical.
“We see a lot of homeowners that can simply no longer afford home repairs, whether it’s a senior on a fixed-income that can’t repair her leaking roof due to rising property taxes, or a grandfather that needs handicap accessibility to enable him to age in place comfortably,” explains Kesler.
Since 1992, RTA has completed more than 900 home projects, with a market value totaling more than $3 million.
“We wouldn’t be able to achieve our mission without community support. Volunteerism is a fundamental part of RTA and we rely heavily on businesses and foundations to fund rebuilds. With the combined efforts and resources of the community, we can realize our vision by increasing affordable housing for low-income Atlantans and help seniors age safely in their homes,” says Kesler.
Brookhaven and Buckhead businesses and residents have rallied behind RTA and its anniversary project. CBRE Atlanta is a sponsor and Darice Rose, senior capital markets manager for CBRE Atlanta, is a board member. Keith Mack, director of real estate development for Regent Partners, also sits on the board.
In a recent RTA rebuild during National Rebuild Month, Transunion employees rehabbed the home of Ms. Lena, a 73-year-old widow and mother unable to afford repairs.
Another homeowner, Ms. Smith, pointed to the impact RTA had on her life after fixing plumbing issues and replacing hazardous flooring. “I honestly feel like God sent RTA. It’s a blessing to see an entire office come repair my home.”
“As we celebrate 25 years, we thank the volunteers and businesses that have supported our vision of rebuilding Atlanta together. We look forward to our next 25 years of community spirit, and helping our fellow neighbors in need. And, I encourage you to join us!” says Kesler.
Learn more at RebuildingTogether-Atlanta.org.