Free home repair for low-income homeowners

Rebuilding Together depends on donations, volunteers

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 5 | Posted May. 9, 2012

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Rebuilding Together depends on donations, volunteers

Tom Kelly
Inman News®

Nearly two decades ago, I watched a Rebuilding Together team complete a dream come true for an elderly woman, then 98. All she wanted was a stack-style washer and dryer and freshly painted rooms in her Craftsman home.

"Well, I got all that and more," Mary Edith said that day. "They painted my house inside and out and just about gave me a whole new bathroom.

"Can you believe it? They did all of this for me on one Saturday in April."

That national program, Rebuilding Together (formerly known as Christmas in April), is still alive and well. It performs home repair and maintenance services at no charge for low-income homeowners and nonprofit facilities.

The organization, pushed along for many years by sponsorship from the National Football League, strives to help the elderly, disabled and families with children remain warm, safe and independent in their homes. The organization now gets a huge national lift from Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

"The day" this year -- in late April or early May depending upon the region of the country -- brings hundreds of volunteer laborers with donated supplies together. The volunteers add grab bars, fix electrical outlets, replace windows -- just about any minor repair or improvement that would make an older person's life more comfortable.

Safety is the key. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 60 percent of the deaths of people over the age of 65 are the result of a fall in the home. Each year, more than 11 million senior citizens fall -- that's one out of every three people over 65. Treating injuries and complications associated with falls costs more than $20.2 billion a year.

According to Rebuilding Together, there are approximately 3.7 million lower-income households with a disabled person, two-thirds of whom are also elderly. While an enormous segment of the population owns their homes, many cannot afford (or are physically unable) to maintain them. With the population of Americans age 65 and older projected to rise from 33 million in 1995 to 62 million in 2025, the number of elderly and disabled will also skyrocket.

"Some people, especially older folks, just don't like asking for help," said Charlie Foushee, a veteran Rebuilding Together volunteer. "So we ask that friends and family members mention the possibilities (of Rebuilding Together). That way, they see the repair or addition benefiting the people who may come to visit rather than themselves."

Last year, more than 250,000 volunteers from 270 affiliates worked on more than 8,000 homes and nonprofit facilities in the U.S., providing more than $84 million in improvements. Since the program began, 87,450 homes have been rehabilitated with the help of more than 2.3 million volunteer workers and suppliers.

Rebuilding Together relies on donations of cash, labor and materials from businesses and community groups before drawing up its schedule of projects. The Seattle chapter plans a minimum of 22 jobs and is still considering requests.

"I believe in the mission because as our population ages and our economy struggles, our services will be needed more and more," said Sarah Ihrie, Rebuilding Together's Seattle director of programs. "Not just by the homeowners, but also by the neighborhoods, cities and counties in which they live. Keeping our aging citizens independent in their homes will help relieve society of a burden that will be increasingly felt as the years progress."

While some community volunteers have extraordinary skills, the construction industry's skilled trade professionals -- plumbers, electricians, iron workers, glaziers and roofers -- not only save time with their expertise but they also get excited about being part of the program.

Tom Kelly's new e-book, "Bargains Beyond the Border: Get Past the Blood and Drugs: Mexico's Lower Cost of Living Can Avert a Tearful Retirement," is available online at Apple's iBookstore, Amazon.com, Sony's Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel eBook Store, and Google Editions. 

                                         

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 5 of 5
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1. joe conboy said... on Jun 10, 2012 at 07:55AM

“I am in dire need of home repairs. My roof leaks, my windows are bad and my window air unit does not work. I am a sick man, i have c.o,p.d and cancer. I have not been able to work in 5 years. My wife lost her job and we are desperet. I spoke to 2 guys working in my naborhood from premeir restoration and the info they gave i can't find. please help with any info you can, i can't errord my bills”

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2. shy said... on Nov 14, 2012 at 05:38PM

“Hello I am a homeowner 24 years old do to complication during pregnacy
I had a stroke. I am in need of some repairs to my home I am on a fixed income any help would be a blessing

thank you”

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3. vanessa davis said... on Dec 3, 2012 at 03:06AM

“im in desperate need of home repairs. my roof doesnt leak, it rains in my house.in three rooms. my floors are shaky fromm all the water that deposits after it rains. i have mold in foru rooms that i know of. i have three holes that anone can walk through... its 40 degrees and im about to freeze to death..adopted have no family.”

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4. homeowner24 said... on May 9, 2013 at 07:51AM

“Florida Estate Management is a home management company who understands homeowners as individuals. Florida Estate Management has created an exclusive team of experts in each field such as housekeeping, handymen, plumbers, pest control etc... To fulfill your most discriminating needs and demands. (561.721.9537) www.FloridaHomeWatch.com”

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5. Anonymous said... on Nov 5, 2013 at 09:03PM

“My House court on fire . So now my second and third floor is damage . I have no windows in my house some bords and plastic on them . I have 3 kids and 4 grandkids . We all live there dont have a option we have9 no where else to go”

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