Hands Up Ministries (HUM) was founded in 2009 by Cassie & JT Matthew when they discovered the huge need for affordable housing in the Highland Park area of Richmond, Virginia. By purchasing in cash abandoned or foreclosed on houses for less than $50,000 and then renovating them through primarily volunteer labor, HUM is able to provide affordable rents to the working poor of the neighborhood.
Hands Up Ministries chooses to focus on the Highland Park neighborhood, specifically 4th and 5th Avenues, because the large number of blighted and abandoned homes makes affordable restorations possible. Highland Park is situated just north of downtown Richmond, on the heights above Shockoe Valley.
Taking its cue from the book Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton, HUM believes in a "hand up" not a "hand out". To that end, all tenants are required to have an income/job. Nothing is given for free without the investment of some amount of money or time. This philosophy works to maintain individual pride, letting people know they are worthy and capable.
Hands Up devotes and invests time into the community, building relationships in hopes of enacting lasting change, and runs several other smaller ministries including: Little Free Libraries, a Community Garden, and renovation assistance to local homeowners.
It is HUM's dream that as our tenants pay affordable rents, they will be able to save money and one day become homeowners, purchasing the houses they live in from our organization and returning the neighborhood to the people who live there, not the landlords.