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Matthew 25 renovates abandoned flood home

Published: Apr. 23, 2018 at 2:35 PM CDT
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After the 2008 flood, a family abandoned their southwest Cedar Rapids home. Eight years later non-profit Matthew 25 took possession of it.

After the family left, the building’s out of state landlord thought the bank would take possession. The bank did not, and after the city planned to legally enforce action, the landlord gifted it to the organization.

“As far back as 2011, we started identifying houses, projects that were just sitting there vacant and abandoned. This was one of them, and we’ve been working on getting this house and doing something with it sense then,” Executive Director Clint Twedt-Ball said. “People need to think about what kind of house they would want live next to. Do we want a vacant house sitting next to our property that has cats and raccoons and flees and all that. It’s a public hazard; it brings down the property values all around it.”

The house suffered a lot of damage. Building manager Aaron Saylor said workers had to wear a mask while working on it.

“The walls, the plaster was coming off. “Upstairs I believe we had two cats and a raccoon, and when we went through the basement there was actually a cat who had made a nest in the duct work,” Saylor said. “When they went to muck it out, the fridge hadn’t been touched since the family left after the flood.”

Due to mold, asbestos, and led paint, volunteer options were limited. It also forced the organization to demolish down to the home’s studs.

“Had to take out all the electrical, all the HVAC, all the plumbing, and start from scratch, Saylor said. “We wanted to have a more modern space that flows together.”

The new floor plan allows for two apartments. A one bedroom downstairs and a two bedroom upstairs.

However, getting to this point is not easy. The city of Cedar Rapids said there are less than 10 flood homes left in the city. The city said the property owner has total say in what happens to the home. If it becomes a code issue, the city will work with the homeowner. But, often times the city has to take the owner to court so a judge can enforce action.

Monday, Matthew 25 celebrate the home and the organizations accomplishments throughout the year. Twedt-Ball said the house is on the market, and looking for low-income families interested in renting.

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