A Failure for Ray of Hope?

A nonprofit that does home improvements for low-income families says its mission is complete in a Point Breeze dwelling, but the homeowner disagrees.

By Lorraine Gennaro
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Jan. 7, 2010

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According to Gant, Walston is responsible for installing kitchen tile over the framing, something she said was never made clear to her.

“When you leave somebody like that, you need to explain to them, ‘this is what you need to do,’” she said.

Ray of Hope tossed out old kitchen appliances that were either damaged or not working, like Walston’s sink which was rotted underneath from water damage. According to Gant, Walston was responsible for replacing those appliances. Her old refrigerator is the only appliance currently in the kitchen. Cooking has become a challenge and relying on a microwave and fryer, Walston tries to make balanced meals for her teen. Walston has no family nearby with whom she can move in, but even if she did, she said she worked very hard to purchase the Bouvier Street dwelling in ’02 and this is where she wants to reside.

“I try to do what I can,” she said. “I’m just really hurt. I’m tired and it’s getting expensive. I don’t even know what to buy anymore. I need to look for microwavable things. It’s not fair to my daughter.”

Walston believes Gant stopped work in her home because funding ran out, something he categorically denies.

“We spent over $10,000 in that home, raising money, the materials, labor. It didn’t cost her one dime for us to come into that house,” he said.

But the homeowner alleges, all summer long, Gant talked about how he had no money and suggested she hold fundraisers to help out. Walston said she tried to organize a fundraiser at a local church and even created a flier, but Gant never got back to her with a date — something, again, he denies.

Walston’s home was the 80th in the city Ray of Hope had worked on and the organization is in the business of helping those in need, not destroying homes, Gant said.

“This will be the first one that we’d done where there has been some type of dissatisfaction,” he added. “If anything, she should be real thankful for what had gotten done. There are people far worse off than her who we could have helped with that money.”

Walston is on disability and said she has no money to make the repairs, but she has been asking friends who might know contractors so she can get some estimates. Asked what her daughter thinks of the living conditions, Walston said, “She doesn’t complain about it at all, but I can just imagine how she feels.”

The best solution as far as Walston sees it is for Ray of Hope to come back and do the work she believes they need to do.

“I think Ray needs to come back and finish the work. Even though we didn’t have a contract, he offered his services,” she said.

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1. Anonymous said... on Jan 8, 2010 at 11:52AM

“I can't believe that this woman is putting down Ray of Hope. They came in and spent $10,000 on her home. They didn't HAVE to do this. They could have done nothing at all. She should be glad that they did that much. What makes her think that she is owed in some kind of way. You can't just expect people to do everything for you for free. It doesn't work like that.”

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