In this week's episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast we take a different look at the home building industry with the CEO of HomeAid, Scott Larson. Greg, Kevin, and Scott discuss how to address the issue of homelessness, as well as, how HomeAid is using home builders to help create solutions. This episode showcases the inspiring mission of HomeAid and sheds a light on how home builders can do their part to get involved in their communities. Listen and enjoy this heartwarming episode, it is sure to inspire you to get involved in your own community.
Larson started his journey and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Biola University as well as holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Now Scott has developed into a highly skilled executive officer with expertise in strategic planning, community development, general and fiscal management, program implementation, and much more. He is known for being an energetic, and determined leader, while being a collaborative team builder who is able to conceive and implement both the vision and details.
Scott Larson joined HomeAid America as the CEO in October of 2019, bringing more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership, strategic planning, project management, program implementation, and community development to HomeAid America. For the past 21 years, Larson served as the Executive Director of HomeAid Orange County the founding chapter of HomeAid. Larson led the development of 33 housing projects, valued at $64 million that added more than 975 safe, dignified beds to thousands of previously homeless individuals and families.
[00:00:00]Greg Bray: Welcome everybody. To another episode of the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine
Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse.
Greg Bray: And today we have a little bit of a different episode for you We are not going to dive into any in-depth marketing, but instead we're excited to welcome Scott Larson, the CEO of HomeAid America.
Scott Larson: Thank you very much. I'm glad to be here, Greg.
Greg Bray: Like I said today, we wanted to give Scott a chance to tell us a little more about HomeAid and what they do and their [00:01:00] mission because, uh, we really, Love, what they're trying to do. And Blue Tangerine has been involved for quite some time.
And Outhouse has also now working together with, with HomeAid and their local area. But before we dive into some of that, Scott, let's just learn a little more about you personally, just give us that brief introduction about yourself and who you are and kind of what you've done in your professional career.
Scott Larson: Well, Greg, as you mentioned, I'm currently the CEO for HomeAid America and I've been in this position for about nine months. But prior to that, I ran the local work of HomeAid of Orange County for over 20 years. And. It's been a great journey of working with the building industry and in addressing a key social issue, dealing with homelessness.
Um, my background before, uh, HomeAid, I've been in both the nonprofit world, as well as the construction industry, and working with homemade has been a perfect blend of both, um, from a social service perspective, as well as construction. So I feel like I'm in a perfect [00:02:00] place to lead where HomeAid has been and where it's going into the future.
Greg Bray: Tell us a little bit more about that construction experience. That's sounds intriguing. What were you doing in the construction world?
Scott Larson: Well, you know, as with anything, when you're, when you're a young person, that's where a lot of your passions lie. And when I was in high school, I want, wanted to be a custom home builder, would walk a lot of construction sites, and had the opportunity to start into the industry of actually working for a building material, supply yard, selling sand, and gravel and brick.
And a variety of things of that nature supporting the building industry. So I had a great base and never truly became a custom home builder, took a little bit of a left turn in college, and went down an education route, but I always had it in my heart and soul. And so when the opportunity he came to HomeAid, I pulled back those roots of, uh, wanting to be a home builder and the custom home builder and my knowledge of the construction industry.
And. [00:03:00] It all came together in a very great way.
Greg Bray: No, that's that's terrific. So one of the things we like to do, Scott, um, is, is we, we ask everybody to bear some deep, dark secret, you know, something that nobody, nobody knows about you, or a lot of people don't know about you. It doesn't have to be too terribly embarrassing, but.
Scott Larson: Well, it's, it's been interesting, uh, ever since I was a young kid I've collected die-cast, uh, cars now, mostly from the 1960s, whether or not it's a Matchbox Corgi, uh, things like, uh, Hot Wheels, et cetera. And it's been interesting during the time of COVID I've been able to kind of dive back into that long lost hobby, and I've actually begun to refurbish some of my for my die-cast. So from the early 1960s, and, uh, there it's been a fun little hobby that I've kind of kept, uh, on the side and something that I'm enjoying bringing back out. So that's maybe I, maybe that's, uh, not too dark of a secret, but that is definitely something that a lot of people don't know [00:04:00] about me and my passion for cars.
It goes back to collecting die-cast as a little kid.
Kevin Weitzel: I share that same hobby. I'm a Johnny Lightning guy, myself. I have obviously about a thousand Hot Wheels, but probably. Three or 400 Johnny Lightenings. Everybody knows that Hot Wheels has the best wheel assembly out there, the fastest rolling chassis.
But what is your, you're just the top tier, the prize possession of your collection.
Scott Larson: Well, I too have a few Johnny Lightnings as well, which is, which is great to know. Uh, probably the, my, my top possession is a, uh, one of the first, uh, sweet sixteens, uh, for the matchbox or for the hot wheels collection. And it's the Camaro and
Kevin Weitzel: Really?
Scott Larson: I, yeah, it's a beautiful little car and something that I've had for many, many years ever since. I first got it, uh, as a gift in 1969.
Kevin Weitzel: Wow, that's awesome.
Greg Bray: So how, how big is the collection? Scott? How [00:05:00] many, how many pieces do you have.
Scott Larson: Well, it's several hundred in counting, so.
Greg Bray: Okay, awesome. Well, that's, that's, that's definitely a fits right in that category of interesting things. So, so tell us, let's, let's dive in a little bit more about, uh, HomeAid, kind of, for those who are not familiar with HomeAid, uh, America and kind of the services you provide, you know, just give us that background. What do you do the mission and kind of how you go about that?
Scott Larson: Well, the simple part, one could call HomeAid a developer. And our focus as a developer has been on, you know, the type of housing that serves people, that experience homelessness. Uh, it could be the development of an emergency shelter for someone that literally is on the street.
It could be the development of long term affordable housing. And the great thing is that the building industry has been interwoven in every part of what we've done since we were founded 30 years ago. [00:06:00] Because the concept is that you have a group in your local community that may be great at providing a social service.
You know, they're a domestic violence shelter. They're working with pregnant women. They're working with transitionally aged youth, but they don't know anything about designing, building, and creating the infrastructure, the built environment for running their program. And that's right where we come in. Uh, we, we come in with all the expertise from the building industry ranging from everything that the building industry does from land acquisition to entitlement, to ultimately design and building these projects and figuring out the financing, because that's what we do.
And we have changed so many lives in so many of our communities as a result of that. It's, uh, it's been a great thing because, uh, We know what we do because the building industry knows what we do. And we just pair it up with groups in our community that need a facility built or [00:07:00] renovated.
Greg Bray: So describe for, again, for those who haven't seen, some of these projects, is this similar to like habitat for humanity or how are you guys, you know, maybe different from what they do.
Scott Larson: Well, there's a couple of distinctions that is always the big name that comes out. And, and on the one hand, what habitat does is extremely important. It's all about affordable homeownership is a habitat model. When you think of all the other types of housing, that is what we call below that in a housing continuum, that's where we focus and the habitat model.
It's single-family homes by and large a view. And I could go out on a weekend and hammer some nails and do some work. But what HomeAid focuses in on is really, uh, our projects tend to be multifamily. Mult, uh, very complex could be commercial, and we don't use a lot of weekend warrior type volunteers. We use professionals from [00:08:00] the building industry to do our work by large, and that's where our focus is.
Uh, we. Yeah, our, our depth of types of projects is, is very diverse, ranging from remodels, uh, commercial ground-up construction, uh, everything in between.
Kevin Weitzel: So is your focus more because like, with, with, uh, the, the other organization, you know, they're, they're trying to transition somebody from like a rental type scenario into, you know, their true first home, but in your case, you're looking at the completely disenfranchised homeless population sounds like.
Scott Larson: It really is I, the types of people that come into the facilities and the homes that we've built are exactly that they've been disenfranchised. You could have had somebody that's been on the street for years that has found their way back to getting into some type of an emergency shelter. Or you might have someone that just lost their housing and is living in a motel that needs [00:09:00] to be able to figure out their next steps.
And a lot of, a lot of those are families. And so how do you get a family that in the last couple of months lost your housing is bouncing around in a substandard motel environment. And how do you get them back on their feet? Uh, save a little bit of money over the course of a few months and to be able to get back into an apartment, uh, transitional age youth, uh, is also another very disenfranchised population, a youth leaving the foster care system, you know, close to 50% in the next couple of years between 18 and 22, uh, end up experiencing homelessness. So you're right. That's exactly the focus of our work.
Kevin Weitzel: So it's more transitional versus the end result. It's more about the stepping stone is how to get past this potential just blackness into having a light at the end of the tunnel.
Scott Larson: Well, well, it's that, but it's also permanent housing. There's been a, [00:10:00] yeah, for many, many years HomeAids focus was on what you were just calling transitional, but the need ultimately is for permanent placements. And a lot of that's geared towards people that have been chronically homeless.
They've found that's the best path is to get them as quickly as you can into a permanent setting. Maybe it's an SRO or a micro-unit, but, uh, the longer that they don't have that housing and created a permanent setting for them, the more disruptive their life is. So we, we have had a lot of projects that have begun to work at a look at it, affordable and permanent housing. In addition to the transitional and emergency.
Greg Bray: Oh, that's that's, that's terrific. And I appreciate the clarification there, cause I think sometimes, you know, and maybe it's because I'm on the marketing side, not an actual builder. I don't always understand some of those nuances there, but so Scott you know, I'm, I'm sure you, you do a lot of work with people trying [00:11:00] to raise money and build awareness and all these kinds of things.
What are some of those common misconceptions that you see out there as you talk to people about the challenge of homelessness in America?
Scott Larson: Well, I think one of the misperceptions is that people that are experiencing homelessness want to remain or to be homeless. And that's, I think where you need to start, uh, you know, all of us have some type of housing.
And when you look at the general population that is out there, 90 to 95% of the population is housed and they've always been housed and. Those that are experiencing homelessness at one point were housed. And it's the question How, how do you get them back into housing and for them to understand, uh, that need, and so that's, I think a misperception, even with somebody that is experiencing, uh, as mental illness, it may take a little bit, but as you begin to when you proper outreach [00:12:00] workers and working with these individuals, Uh, it may take a little bit of time, but ultimately, yeah, people want to be housed.
They want to have a roof over their head in a safe shelter. And I think one of HomeAid core values and ultimate directional goals is that, uh, housing is a right and housing is, is something that brings dignity. And we have the opportunity to bring that to many, many people that are disenfranchised in our country.
Greg Bray: What type of, of success rates, if I don't know if you can measure it that way or not, but, but how do you feel like, you know, how do you measure success with the program and how do you, how do you see it? Um, you know, how effective do you see it being?
Scott Larson: Well, there's a couple of things and we might look at it a little differently than the operator of our projects, you know?
So you got an operator that would be looking at success rates and uh, ultimately the success rate is keeping people housed. And on our end, we have success rates on, you know, [00:13:00] one how quickly we can bring a product, uh, to market to a degree just like a builder. Uh, we look at our financial ratios and, uh, costs to doing projects.
So we look at a number of different metrics, but ultimately the successful path is one. Can we provide housing for individuals and knowing, and or families. But knowing that those individuals may have, uh, you know, varying degrees of success, but our objective is to provide the opportunity initially for them to end their homelessness.
Greg Bray: Right. Well, that's terrific. So for, you know, builders who are listening today and going, Oh, wow, this, this sounds intriguing. You know, what, what types of things do you ask from builders and how do you want them to be involved with it's kind of their role in all of this.
Scott Larson: Well their role is specifically to do what they do best and it could be a builder or anybody in the building industry, because [00:14:00] just when you, when you think of the development of any home building project, everybody involved along the way are people that we need involved with our projects.
And we have chapters. We have 19 chapters around the country and pretty much most of the major metropolitan areas and markets, and we've done projects outside of those areas as well. But when you, when you think of land acquisition, we need people involved with that. We need, we need people to be involved with entitlement.
And ultimately when it gets down to design architects and engineers and all the various consultants, and ultimately we do need the builder to build and their trades and their suppliers. And, you know, we get purchasing agents involved. So when you think of every aspect of the building industry, that's who we incorporate.
And HomeAid in many aspects is as a convener is a conductor is a broker of all these resources to make these projects happen. And so when you look at a [00:15:00] builder who has a vested interest in a local community, what, what they can do is they're giving back to those communities that they're in doing exactly what they do as a profession.
And that's how HomeAid started 30 over 30 years ago. The building industry looked at well, okay how do we address this issue of homelessness? We're not a service provider. We're not the person dealing with the people, but this is something we can do. We can build and who better to build projects, to house people that experiencing homelessness than a builder than the building industry.
And so we, we, uh, we are a great intersection of. Doing common good in a, in a local community by people that, uh, have a passion and skills and expertise.
Kevin Weitzel: How many you're in 19 municipalities or cities, if you will, what, uh, how many projects do you have going at any given time?
Scott Larson: So, currently right now we have about, uh, 70 developments going [00:16:00] on.
And we're we, we rank that, you know, we look at from a cost value, it's about a hundred million dollars worth of project value that's currently going on. And when you, when we look at the output, as far as people working, creating, uh, you know, over 3,500 beds in those projects, and it's, it's significant to HomeAid as a whole has built, uh, approaching a thousand developments, uh, across the country.
And. The, uh, there's been, you know, nearly 400,000 people that have been housed in our projects over the years. So every bed that we're able to bring online and every project, whether or not it's smaller, large, uh, impacts lives in multiple folds, uh, because someone might be in a project for a few months or a few years.
And so the turn rate and the impact rate is exponential over time. So every bed that we can bring online ultimately preserves and saves people's lives over time.
Greg Bray: Do you stay involved, um, [00:17:00] with the ongoing maintenance of these projects after they're done? Or is that handed off to somebody else once something's completed? How does that work?
Yeah, very much like a home builder who, uh, Greg built and sold you a home. Uh, there, there, that's how the homemade model has traditionally run. Uh, we've got a partner that we've built for and they take over the operations and the responsibilities after that. But we've definitely stayed engaged.
We do a lot of service, activities, and involvement. Uh, we have a lot of volunteer app activities at these projects. We run, uh, diaper drives. We get involved at the holidays. So every chapter of HomeAid in these communities. Figures out how to continue that relationship and get involved, but the builder's role ends the builder's role.
It just like when the builders sold you, the home, uh, that role ends on a HomeAid project, but life continues. Uh, and, and what we say, you know, Greg, the home builder who built you, your [00:18:00] home, isn't coming over for Thanksgiving, but we certainly go to Thanksgiving at our shelters and our projects over the years.
I never thought of inviting my builder over for Thanksgiving. I'll have to, I'll have to revisit that this year and see if I've been ungrateful. So it's a, it's a great thought. One thing that I've noticed with your chapter Scott is that a lot of them seem to be paired together with a local home builders association.
Is that part of your model or is that just kind of happened or how does that relationship work?
Scott Larson: No, that is by design. When we go to a new community, where, where do we find the base of builders? And it is typically right with an association, uh, yeah tied to the national association of home builders or similar group, because that is the convening group for the builders.
And so we have an interwoven partnership with many associations across the country and the endorsement and it's been a great base for us. Uh, Orlando, our newest chapter is precisely that, uh, with, uh, with GOBA, the greater Orlando [00:19:00] building industry association, it's a great partnership and a great base for us to build from.
And it gives a direct opportunity for that association to give back through their builders, to the community.
Greg Bray: So one thing, Scott, that, that struck me, um, I had a chance to hear you do a presentation IBS, uh, this past January. Um, uh, and, and you, you use some terminology differences that really, I don't know what it was, but it just, it just really hit me the way that you change the phrasing of a homeless person to someone experiencing homelessness.
Can you, can you kind of talk about where that comes from and why that's so important to you?
Scott Larson: Well, it's really important because it's so easy to label. Yeah. And particularly in the last few months, the discussions around race and discussions around equity and diversity and inclusion, it's so easy to label people and to label someone as a homeless person versus a person experiencing homelessness, it's a subtle but [00:20:00] profound difference.
Because it's, uh, homelessness is circumstantial. It shouldn't be someone's permanent label. And so it's an experience that they're going through. And if you look at it from that perspective, okay, we're going to help that person because we're going to yeah, come alongside them and understand why they've been experiencing homelessness versus, Oh, that is just almost derogatory.
Well, that's just the homeless person. Uh, you know, so that's the base of it, Greg. And I think that each of us, as individuals can, can seek to understand and wrestle with that personally, uh, you know, from your own experiences of, of how we use labels and identify people maybe it's easy or maybe it's even not thought about it, but it's certainly something that I see as that can be changed.
It can begin to change the paradigm of how we think about the people that I view as neighbors in our community.
Kevin Weitzel: Well, just like I, that's very profound because just like you don't [00:21:00] expect to become homeless. Can you look at what you're doing as far as not necessarily seeing the benefit now, but seeing the benefit later. You know, because just like when somebody's current actions, they don't know that what they're doing now is going to affect them being homeless a year from now. But you know, when you're doing what you do, which I think is amazing with HomeAid and you're providing these opportunities for people, it's almost like you're doing work that will fulfill the need even further on down the road.
Scott Larson: Yeah, that, that is really profound. And I think that's one of the things that in the building industry on many, many levels when you can look at what you've built and the impact that has had down the road, because even, even a home builder today, May not know the families that are living in there, in their homes, that they built down the road.
And that's exactly what, what HomeAid is looking to do. If we bring it up an asset on, into a community, we know that it will have a longterm impact not only impact [00:22:00] today by many communities that we're building in a project might be in a blighted or underserved community. So we're improving the physical built environment.
And then that built environment, we really believe of it brings dignity and beauty to the individual coming in. We hear time and time again when a resident comes into one of our projects, that statement of, wow, I, I never believed somebody cared enough to create a place like this that i could be. And our perspective is we never know where someone has been or where they're going to be, but when they're at a community that we've been able to build, it's a place that's dignified and it's caring for them right then and there where they're at.
Greg Bray: So, Scott, I saw recently it's probably been the last couple of months, one of the projects, um, I believe it was in, um, Northern California, where they were doing the kind of the tiny homes that [00:23:00] really were just kind of maybe a bed or two beds in, and there wasn't much more in there. Um, that seemed really innovative in a way, too serve a lot of people with you know, from a budget standpoint, And, and really make a difference. And it just really struck me as I looked at those going, wow, there's, there's some creativity therein, in the whole architecture concepts. And how do we, how do we get the essence of giving somebody a safe place to sleep, where they could lock the door and feel safe at night so they could sleep well?
You know, that, that just really hit me. And who, who are the geniuses behind some of these ideas? I mean, where does this come from? You know, the architects are these people on your team that are pushing these ideas. How did those come about?
Scott Larson: Well, it's really a blend of a lot of that. Uh, we have several of our chapters, Austin, uh, our chapter in Hawaii, and as you mentioned, uh, Northern California that are doing tiny homes. And even our work in Portland has worked on what's called pods, which is even smaller than a tiny home. [00:24:00] And so part of it is driven by the opportunity. Uh, to do a project. And then as we pull in the builder and in particularly the architect, that's where the excitement comes in and the creativity, because you get, you get an enthusiastic builder and their architect and room addition, you got to hold them back because particularly our work that's going on in Austin.
There's a community called community first, and I encourage you to look it up online. It's actually a planned community for people that had been homeless and it's a 50-acre site and we're in the process of building. About, uh, about 10 of the homes in that unity right now. And it's almost an architectural competition between the various builders.
You know, Lennart just completed their first one. And Taylor Morrison is doing a couple and, uh, it's, it's fun to see the creativity with a great purpose in mind. Come together.
Greg Bray: I have to, I have to ask. So when you talk about buying 50 acres worth of land, that's [00:25:00] not a cheap purchase. How do you, how do you raise the kind of money to go get 50 acres worth of land to do one of these projects?
Scott Larson: And that is definitely a big project. And the service provider was able to buy that it's a group called mobile loaves and fishes. They were able to buy that a number of years ago in a longterm plan. And so we're, we're building kind of in that community and, but every project is a little different. Uh, so when we have the opportunity to look at whether or not city cause cities play a vital role in many, many projects of not only providing entitlement and the approval process, but many projects have been built in collaboration on land that has been owned by a city that's been provided to a project.
And so every project looks at a little bit different in the funding sources. What we call the capital stack can vary as well, public money, private money, uh, donated in-kind money because that's what we bring a lot to the table as the in-kind services to lower [00:26:00] the costs. So there's a lot that goes into the financial performance of our projects as well.
Greg Bray: I think I'm grasping a vision that, that you've actually probably a pretty busy guy with all these details that go into a project like that. So it's, it's really, really impressive. Um, so how, how do we get it more compassionate? You know, how do we not drive by these, these folks that we see on the street and just kind of feel like, you know, well, they must have done something wrong to be where they are.
You know, how any tips on increasing just our willingness to love a little more?
Scott Larson: Well, I think you touched on a couple of things. Um, one, they probably have done something wrong to get where they're at, but the compassion comes in we've all done things that might have landed us in similar positions and we're not, uh, you know, something changed in our life.
We may have had a safety net. We may have had a little different [00:27:00] turn personally. Well, we've all made and had the opportunity for choices to come into our life. And I, I, I told the story, uh, there's an individual who lives in Miami unity here in San Juan Capistrano, that I've seen time and time again.
And what caught my eye with him one day is that I saw him, uh, Picking up trash and cleaning up. And he's a person that, that is experienced homelessness. And I took an opportunity to talk to him and he initially, so one of the first things that I think that everyone needs to consider is that these people have names just like you and I do.
And so when you come up to somebody, introduce yourself and ask them their name, because that's what you and I would do if we met in a community. So there's an important part of recognizing that person as a human, but then. As he began to share his story with me, it goes back to things that happened to him many, many years ago, that he was not able to overcome.
[00:28:00] And I asked him about why was he picking up the trash and cleaning up this untended lot in our community that people had abandoned. And he said, you know, I just want to be an asset to our community. So we have to tie, take a step, a step back, and recognize that these are people, there are people in our communities.
There are people that have had stories just like you. And I do, uh, there's someone's son, someone's dad, potentially someone's mother or a daughter. And we have to take a perspective that that is a human that's, a fellow person in my community. They have a name and they have a story. And I am going to one recognize that and do what I can to at least pause and ponder that from my own personal perspective.
So each of us have that ability, I, to lean in a little bit, to become a little educated and to have a little bit of empathy and understanding to [00:29:00] that person that you see on the street corner.
Kevin Weitzel: Me being a former Marine. It's a little hard for me not to want to bite the head off of somebody. When I hear him see a tent city in San Francisco, and they're like, look at these bums, they need to go somewhere.
And they don't realize that some of them are disenfranchised. Some of them have a mental illness, some of them, I mean, who's going to hire somebody that doesn't have an address, a phone. Um, you know, uh, they might not even know their social security number anymore because they've lost track of all that stuff.
Cause they don't have a place to keep it, you know? And when I hear people that, that speak, so despairingly about these people these humans. It makes me sick to my stomach because are they part of the problem?
Or are they part of the process to help it not be a problem. And in 90% of the cases people aren't. So I applaud HomeAid for doing what they do because it is a step in the right direction into ending some of this stuff, or at least mitigating a portion of it, you know?
Scott Larson: Yep. And you bring up a very good point because there's, there's a lot of things interwoven [00:30:00] and it's multilayered, you know if you're.
You know, how quickly could any one of us grab our birth certificate or some form of ID if you've lost it and you don't know where it's at, and if you're struggling then on top of that with, uh, PTSD or mental illness, you're right. How do you get a job? So it's, it's multilayered and many, many steps to get back.
And granted, there are people that aren't in as dire of a situation that we're helping as well, that young adult, that 18-year-old, that is just been emancipated. May not have all the layers that a person that is been on the streets for a decade, but how do you mitigate it today and how do you get that person on the right path?
And so it's so important that we understand the complexity with it. And what are the resources that can be provided? And housing is key. Housing is key to safety. Housing is key to health, as we find right now with, with COVID. And if you're on the streets, how do [00:31:00] you, how do you social distance? How do you, you know, take, uh, take care of yourself?
So there's a direct intersection of all of this and the need for housing as a whole housing for everybody. And then specifically tailored housing for people that, that are experiencing homelessness.
Kevin Weitzel: If you do have the ability to go to a job interview if you're that lucky being homeless, how do you shower to get to, how do you launder your clothes to get to go to that interview and be presentable brother, you were preaching to the choir. I'm a hundred percent on it.
Greg Bray: So Scott, how you know, this is it's great that we want to help people, but this is a problem that has been around probably forever. Can we really solve it? Is it, isn't it just too big and too overwhelming? How do you, how do you keep going, I guess is where, where I'm trying to go.
Scott Larson: Well, they, there is absolutely no doubt. You know, you look at some of the stats and there are 3.5 million people every [00:32:00] year that experienced homelessness. Yeah. So how do you begin to grapple with that? And you look at other global issues, you know, global warming or even the fight against cancer, even now COVID there's you have to take small steps.
Uh, there's a phrase that one of my former board presidents, I would say is you can't boil the ocean, which is correct. You can't. So the problem is immense. The problem is really big. So how do you get it down to a bite-size piece? So what can we do as individuals and what can we do to start with?
And I think that on our end, we do it project by project and we do it, person, by person and we use the phrase, you know, HomeAid, HomeAids objective is to end homelessness and people would scoff at that. Well, can you truly end homelessness? Well, okay on my end, put cancer out there. Cancer people that are pursuing answers for that pursue a, a [00:33:00] desire to end cancer and to cure cancer.
You would, you scoff at them at that? So it's a, it's a shift. And so every little bit every person helps and every project we bring online helps. And so that's where we have to start with this massive problem. But as an industry, We need to address affordability. We need to address every project, not just HomeAids projects, but every project that the home building industry brings online, whether or not it's multifamily, custom homes, single-family homes, every housing helps along the way.
So it's a big picture issue. And then you bring it down to what can I do in my local community to answer a specific problem for a specific person. That might be, might be experiencing homelessness right now today.
Greg Bray: So Scott, it kind of reminds me, I don't know if you've heard of I've heard it called the parable of the starfish.
You ever heard that [00:34:00] one? So big storm washes, thousands of starfish on a beach and boys out there throwing them back in the water and a man comes along and says, why are you doing that? There's no way you can throw all those starfish back in the water. Um, and the boy picks up one more. Um, you know, he's like, you just can't make a difference.
He picks up one more, throws it back down. And so that just made all the difference for that one. And that's, and that's kinda what I feel like when I, when I listened to you, you know, I, I maybe I can't get all of them back into the water, but I can get that one back in the water and I get that one back in the water and, and make a difference.
Scott Larson: And that's where you have to bring it down to their people. And there, and there are people that, that you can relate to. If you had a one on one conversation with them and say, okay, what can I do to help that person right now today?
Kevin Weitzel: So Greg and I were chatting just before the podcast and he was talking about a quote and I believe it is your direct quote, something about shade trees.
And you know, you're not going to get shade on it when you do it, but somebody else is going to enjoy the [00:35:00] shade or something along those lines. So how does that, what does that?
Scott Larson: Well, that that phrase actually comes from, uh, uh, a philosopher by the name of Elton Trueblood. And it basically goes down the lines of, uh, one begins to have a true understanding of human life of life.
When you plant shade trees under which, you know, you will never sit. So it's a long term perspective and, uh, I shared with Greg before I carry a little small pewter acorn in my pocket, uh, almost all the time to remind me of that. Um, the work, the way you're doing today, we're planting of love it. Greg has,
Greg Bray: I got one, I got one!
Scott Larson: The idea is that the work we do today has a profound impact for years to come. And we have to keep that in mind and that someone down the road will be in a project that I will have never met. But I, I had the opportunity to create that today to bring [00:36:00] that bed online. And the builder brings that bed online and someone two, three, five, 10, even 20 years, you know, even some HomeAid projects have been in play for 30 years.
There are people today that, that builder 30 years ago never would have met. That has an opportunity and the one I'm thinking of particularly is housing veterans today. And that veteran now has a place to stay as a result of somebody who built that project, uh, over 30 years ago. So we have to keep in mind that, you know, we keep so often short term results, but it's longterm, the longterm play that we're, that we're concerned with and that we, the impact that we're having.
Greg Bray: Well, Scott, um, you know, this is absolutely amazing stuff that you're doing. Um, we're, we're so appreciative want to be mindful of your time here as we kind of. You know, wrap up, but I, you know, somebody listening is like, wow, I didn't know HomeAid was doing this. This sounds great. I want to help. [00:37:00] What do they go do?
What do you want them to do? You know, as soon as they finish this podcast, who does, who do they call? Where do they go give them some direction?
Scott Larson: Well, the first thing that they can do, uh, our website is HomeAid.Org. So that's H O M E A I D.org. From that website, you can visit any one of our chapters and get further involved.
And so every chapter has a director has as a point of contact and all that is there through our, through our website. So that's a very tangible thing, begin to poke around, begin to look at the issues and. And also for them personally, what can they do today in their, in their own walk? Uh, we, we have things called care kits, many chapters create them and you could create one on your own.
It's a little something that you have in your car. And when you see that person on the street corner and you're wrestling with, do I give him money or not? Well, you can give them a care kit. And yeah, it has typically, [00:38:00] yeah, maybe hygiene items, a bottle of water, something in there. A lot of times there's a resource card.
But it's taking a small step, uh, individually and personally, because we all can do that. And we all can, you can get involved with something big, like one of our projects, if, if you're in the industry that you also can do something personally with your family and just even, you know, have the conversation after you listened to this, have the conversation with, uh, your family or your business partner and saying, you know, have you ever really thought about homelessness and what, what the issues are.
Yeah, can we have a conversation? Look and start there. That would be what I would encourage them to do.
Greg Bray: That's awesome. That's awesome. So hopefully, hopefully everybody will take if everybody just takes one small step, right? Amazing things happen. Um, when we all live together. So Scott, any last piece of advice that you'd like to leave with our listeners today, any parting thoughts that we didn't get to yet?
Scott Larson: Well, the key thing is I couldn't be more appreciative of what the home building industry has done. I, you know, [00:39:00] you asked me about my early career and I couldn't be more pleased and more excited about all that this industry has done, and I'm grateful to be part of it because of the passion and the desire to, to build in general, you couldn't ask for a more entrepreneurial giving back group.
And I get the honor of working with many of those people. And so uh, my thanks to everyone that's worked with me and that's encouraged me and I just encourage others to get involved and to give back and in from their heart and what they do as a profession.
Greg Bray: That's terrific. Um, Scott, if people want to get in touch with you or connect, what's the best way for them to reach out.
Scott Larson: You know, I, again go through our website and you can, you can reach out to me. Uh, my. My contact information is on there on the HomeAid.org website. Okay. Terrific.
Greg Bray: Well, thank you so much again, Scott, for your time today, this has been great. We encourage everybody to go learn more about HomeAid [00:40:00] America and hopefully if there's a chapter local to you to, you know, see how you can get involved.
Um, and we actually get to join us next time on the homebuilder digital marketing podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine
Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse.