Suggested Policy for Church Congregation for Single Host Home for a Small or Large Group
Above: Former 4582 sq ft Home that Hosted Disciple Now Group in Yorktown- image courtesy Google Maps
Below I'll be going over details of a suggested procedure & considerations when seeking to obtain a single volunteer home from church to host a group coming in from out of town.
It’s not completely out of the ordinary to ask for a large group hosting opportunity including overnight stays.
For instance, “Disciple Now” which I used to attend under Liberty Baptist Church (& my parents’ home used to be a host home), requested that a number of host homes become available from the church for a weekend retreat to grow spiritually. My parents’ home was also used in the past for a retreat of college students
Public open requests are preferred over private personalized requests.
A public open request for a hosting opportunity would reduce the pressure vs a private request. A private personalized request could cause tension if someone feels pressured to be a host due to the magnitude of the request. If it would be a long stay & a congregation wanted to reduce the pressure on whichever family hosts, one possibility would be to break up the time in half with one family hosting for the first half and another family hosting for the second half, though that wouldn’t be ideal for the guests. Another way to reduce pressure is to state up front that hosts would only be offering as a one-time event or rotate by year if desired with no more than one hosting every 3 years if desired, depending on host preferences.
In determining which families/houses to consider, it’s important to keep in mind the below qualitative factors:
The condition of the home, including repair needs & cleanliness (clutter & hygienically)
Home amenities & surroundings
Dedication of the family to prayer, the Lord, the world, and to the church
Abilities of the owners to host considering gifting, past hosting, time constraints, & flexibility in the event that they will remain in the home
Suggested Home Requirements
Homeowners should have homeowners insurance.
No sightings of bed bugs, lice, or fleas in the home in the prior 2 years.
No known mold in home
No leaks in the home that haven't been addressed (i.e. gas, water, roof, etc.)
Working water, hot water, heating & cooling
No significant known safety hazards
Depending on Needs:
Parking needs satisfied
The location of the home in proximity to locations the guests would go to
The size of the home, in terms of square footage,
total number of bedrooms
total number of bathrooms
The number of current occupants & whether or not all current occupants would stay in the home. One way to reduce this # if desired is by asking the hosts about the prospect of vacating their home for the time that the guests are there, & even possibly to stay at one of the other volunteer candidate's homes.
The number & quality of beds in the home, including any air mattresses, trundles, or pull-out beds from couches of at least decent quality.
Rooms that could be used as a bedroom that would have direct access to an exterior window that would be a suitable exit in the event of a fire, that would allow some privacy, & would have the ability to not be lit by the sun too much if they’re not getting up before 6 AM daily (i.e. curtains &/or blinds).
Suggested Home Preferences
It's ideal to only consider homes that have an oven hood that vents to the exterior if the group plans to do much cooking in the home, especially if guests are planning on using much spice, seafood, or other strong scents. A minority of homes don’t have a hood at all. Many homes that have a hood don’t have one that vents to the exterior because it costs more to build it that way.
No sightings of roaches in the home in the prior 6 months
All bedroom vents working including adjustability & temperature differential
No known mildew or fungal growth of any kind in home, including in/around showers/tubs
At least 4 working smoke detectors & at least 2 carbon monoxide detectors
Curtains/blinds in all bedrooms being used
Return filter for HVAC replaced in past 3 months
A well-insulated home with efficient heating/cooling
No light bulbs out in the home & no outlet problems (including fire hazards)
Establishing Parameters Based on Needs, Congregation & Local Statistics
It's a good idea to check statistics when establishing parameters, based in part on the size of a congregation hosting, the need, & local statistics. A small congregation should establish wider parameters than a larger congregation, and the statistics of the community are important as well.
My initial thought was the following criteria for a large group in Newport News, but the % of available options are too low in Newport News & Hampton where much of a Newport News church's congregation likely resides.
Out of 1114 sales in the past 180 days in NN, only 7 (.6%) had each of the following:
5 or more bedrooms
3 full or more bathrooms
3000 or more square feet.
A larger church has a higher probability that members of the congregation come from distant locations in some cases. I come from Smithfield to my Newport News Church but I live in a townhome that’s unsuitable & wouldn’t qualify under the above criteria. There’s a lower probability of someone coming from Newport News’ or Hampton home working than someone coming from places with a higher percentage of larger homes, so I don’t recommend isolating a request to Hampton & Newport News. The low volume of properties in Poquoson would mean I wouldn’t recommend just the 3 of those either. By comparison, Hampton had .6% (6/1021) of properties that met the above qualifications, Poquoson had 8.8% (6/68), York County had 7.2% (29/403), James City County & Williamsburg combined had 7.7% (48/627).
While 1 or more families from a Newport News church might have a suitable location that fits those #s above, I think it would be better to have a wider pool of available options based on the following criteria, and while it’d be great to also get 1 or more volunteers with the stricter criteria, the below would give a church based out of Newport News more options:
2 and a half + baths
2500+ sq ft
With that broadened criteria, the % of Newport News properties multiplies by over 10, from 7 to 72, from .6% to 6.5% of past 180 days sales.
Online Research of Homes
If wanting to check a home out online, often the information of a home is available on Zillow (which is typically, but not always, up to date) or you can check the tax records, i.e.:
Hampton Property Information | Hampton, VA - Official Website
James City County https://property.jamescitycountyva.gov/JamesCity/Account/Logon
New Kent County http://gis.vgsi.com/newkentcountyva/
Newport News https://www.nngov.com/302/Property-Assessment-Search
Toano (JCC) https://property.jamescitycountyva.gov/JamesCity/Account/Logon
York County https://maps.yorkcounty.gov/York/Account/Logon
It would be beneficial to perform a site visit of a few homes before deciding on one. In doing so it would be important to have a licensed contractor (ideally Class A), home inspector, or knowledgable real estate agent participate from the congregation if possible. It would be ideal for the inspection to include an aerial of the property (Adam has a drone and a part 107 FAA certification).
Those inspecting should take pictures of items that would need to be addressed prior to hosting, positives and negatives to consider for selection even if not a requirement or suggestion to change, &/or for marketing purposes to prospective guests in case the home is deemed to be in show-ready shape. Picture timing for marketing purposes to prospective guests can be enhanced at times by season in various capacities.