A few weeks ago, a Google Alert appeared in my inbox with “Habitat for Humanity” attached to it. I opened it and saw that it was attached to a few stories about S.C. flood relief. At first I thought it was a mistake, but then I saw the connection – a bill that Habitat for Humanity helped pass during the first half of the legislative session, which gives tax breaks to nonprofits buying homebuilding supplies (that’s the Cliffnotes version), can be used to help nonprofits who are helping to repair homes damaged in the major flooding this fall.
Very unexpected, but very cool. And that got us thinking. When we set out to work with Habitat on the bill last year, our goal was to help Habitat for Humanity in South Carolina better fulfill their mission by giving them more funds to build more houses. We approached the problem without much controversy, in a way that was a win-win for both the state and the organization. Habitat affiliates in South Carolina received thousands of dollars back on their construction material purchases, allowing them to build even more homes. But that thousands of dollars gained back for Habitat was only a drop in the bucket lost for the state. It wasn’t complicated or political. It was a small step that had a great impact.
So it’s great to see that our simple solution can also be used to help those dealing with a much bigger problem. Is our simple bill the cure-all solution that flood relief agencies are looking for? We’re sure it’s not. We’re sure they’d love it if the state would foot the bill for all flood repairs, allowing these agencies to help everyone that needs it without question. But that’s not logical or practical, and there’s something to be said for the simple solution. It might only help a little bit at a time, and not in one fell swoop like we’d like. But hey, it helps.
So as we begin the second half of the two-year legislative session, let’s keep the simple, smaller solutions in mind. Our legislators are constantly under pressure to find big-ticket solutions to big-ticket problems. And we’re not saying that those big-ticket problems don’t need a solution, because they do, and fast. But sometimes the best way to approach a problem is to take it in small, manageable chunks. It might mean that we’ll still have some of these problems 20 years down the road, but we’re willing to bet that the problems will have improved. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.