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Habitat for Humanity volunteer Samantha Harrison works on a house in the 1300 block of 12th Avenue in East Moline in March 2018.

Two area nonprofit groups that help people build safe homes are merging to build their own stronger, more effective organization.

Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities, founded in 1993, and Rebuilding Together Quad Cities, begun in 1990, are merging, Habitat announced Monday. As of Feb. 4, RTQC will be Habitat’s home-repair program and cease to be an independent organization.

Steve Barton, the RTQC's executive director and only staffer, will become an employee of Habitat. He will continue to lead the repair program.

"This change will allow us to be more effective and efficient in serving the housing needs of low-income families and allow us to have a greater impact on our community as a whole," Barton said in a release. "Administrative costs will decrease, our volunteer base can be better utilized and our resources will stretch further."

Kristi Crafton, Habitat's executive director, said the merger would allow more people to be served by the effort.

"We believe everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home," Crafton said. "We work well with the RTQC volunteers and welcome them and Steve into our Habitat family."

The release said HFHQC was “committed to helping low-income families build strength, stability, and self-reliance" through new home construction, a neighborhood revitalization program, a wheelchair ramp-building program and the Habitat ReStore in Davenport.

Founded as Hearts and Hammers QCA, Rebuilding Together began as a way for volunteers to provide free emergency and critical home repairs for elderly, disabled and low-income homeowners. In 2001, it became affiliated with the national Rebuilding Together and changed its name to Rebuilding Together Quad Cities.

HFHQC, part of a worldwide effort is a partnership that has worked on 114 Quad-Cities homes since 1993, Crafton said. Homeowners buy houses Habitat builds and renovates, investing hundreds of hours of their own labor while working with volunteers. She said it had produced payment of more than $1.1 million in local property taxes from the new homes.

RTQC has completed 1,000 projects, Barton said. The groups have partnered on projects such as “Rock the Block” Sept. 26, 2015, in Moline's Floreciente neighborhood when more than 30 repairs and a cleanup were conducted.

Crafton said they were working together on a pilot program to build modular wheelchair ramps. A partnership formed last year has built and installed eight handicap-accessible ramps for low-income families with funding from the Scott County Housing Cluster and the Day and Rauch foundations.

"It makes sense we join forces,” Crafton said.

In 2014, Habitat launched its own repair program, a revitalization initiative in the Floreciente neighborhood. There it has done 66 house projects, including 50-plus property beautifications and cleanups and critical home repairs, which are bigger projects like siding, roofing or plumbing with work done on a sliding-fee scale for homeowner based on income, Crafton said.

In Floreciente, HFHQC also has done 228 physical condition surveys to help homeowners assess needs and make repair recommendations, she said.

In 2016, RTQC started a partnership with Rock Island's KeyStone Neighborhood Association, St. John's Lutheran Church, the city and Augustana College to provide free needed home repairs/modifications in KeyStone.

Crafton said the merger would allow HFHQC and RTQC to expand services into other parts of the community and build on its base of often common volunteers. She and Barton also have discussed with funders about what the changes will mean.

“My biggest concern is that people who maybe supported the repair programs, and others supported us, will just think they can give the one organization a smaller amount of money,” she said.

"We'll have lower administrative costs, lower overhead, share tools," she said. "It literally makes good business sense. We hope funders would consider that, to fund both home-building and the repair.”

RTQC, which has been based at 2435 Kimberly Road, Bettendorf, will consolidate at Habitat's office at 3625 Mississippi Ave., Davenport. For more details, call Habitat at 563-359-9066 or visit habitatqc.org.

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