By Jim Wehner The Charis staff was talking yesterday about one of the houses we are currently renovating. It will be beautiful when we are done. It will be important on the street, and the family that purchases it will be integral to our work of re-neighboring the blocks.
Cynthia, the managing director for our housing partner Charis Community Housing, was adding up the expenses on this property. Even though it has so much to offer the community, it is becoming clear that we are not going to cover our costs on this house.
The conversation is what we call a “process check.” In 2008-2009, we pulled together a task force made up of men and women of faith that work in the Real Estate industry (builders, agents, lawyers and an architect). This commited task force helped us develop and clarify a process that would keep Charis healthy and enable us to do sustainable ministry. They developed a strong business plan and pro forma (budgeting process).
A process check is a simple way of saying we (Cynthia and I) are comparing the work that we have done on this house against that plan and pro forma. It is not surprising that we found two mistakes.
First, in the pressure to complete the house on time, we had begun work without finalizing our construction budget. When we ran into an unexpected (and unbudgeted) structural issue on the house, we made a second mistake. We did not add those new costs into the budget and subtract other work so that we could stay on plan.
These are easy mistakes to make in the remodeling process. Fortunately, because of the work done by our task force to create a clear set of guidelines, we can make adjustments prior to completing the project. We can hold ourselves accountable to a healthy process.
When I think about the gift those members of our housing task force gave to Charis and FCS five years ago, I am extremely humbled and blessed by the way the body of Christ can work together to serve a whole neighborhood. Their expertise has provided more than $2.5 million in development of affordable and market rate housing in our focus neighborhood.
Housing redevelopment is not a sure thing. It takes a specific skillset, as well as capital, to support the work. The ability to draw from the gifts of others and hold ourselves accountable is a huge gift to the organization and the community and a daily reminder of the power of body of Christ working together.