Free home repairs for those in need

Rebuilding Together aids low-income homeowners

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 9 | Posted Apr. 15, 2010

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Rebuilding Together aids low-income homeowners

Tom Kelly
Inman News

You wonder if Bobby Trimble had any notion how widely his thoughtful idea would blossom and spread.

Trimble was the Texas oil worker who gathered a group of caring neighbors in 1973 to help a widow living on a fixed income with some much-needed home repairs. At the end of that productive and invigorating day of work, the woman exclaimed, "This is like Christmas in April!"

Rebuilding Together (formerly known as Christmas in April) became a national nonprofit organization in 1988 headquartered in Washington, D.C. There are now 260 affiliates of this volunteer organization in 49 states, preserving and revitalizing low-income houses and communities.

The group performs home repair and maintenance services at no charge for low-income homeowners and nonprofit facilities. The organization reaches out to the elderly, the disabled and families with children in an attempt to help them remain warm, safe and independent in their homes.

More than 250 affiliate leaders throughout the nation are now processing applications for National Rebuilding Day on April 24. Applicants must be owner-occupants and meet specific income guidelines.

"We are encouraging all folks who need help to let us know you are out there," said Charlie Foushee, Seattle Rebuilding Together development committee chair. "Sometimes people are simply afraid to ask -- especially seniors. If they are unsure about what regional RT serves them, we'll try and find them a crew and solution."

The 2010 national campaign officially began at the Super Bowl in Miami. "The Kickoff to Rebuild" featured present and past National Football League players who have become involved with Rebuilding Together (RT) in their respective cities.

Last year, more than 250,000 volunteers worked on more than 8,000 homes and nonprofit facilities, 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 volunteers.

Much of the work for seniors involves building a ramp to eliminate steps to an entry. Recent statistics have revealed that the number of seniors seriously injured in falls continue to climb.

Reportedly, 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 nearly one out of every three people over 65.

The injuries are also expensive to treat. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, treatment of the injuries and complications associated with falls costs more than $20.2 billion a year. Rebuilding Together's affiliates and the surgeons' American Academy recently launched a series of workshops and technical assistance sessions to explore the growing need for home modifications as the nation's population ages.

Rebuilding Together relies on donations of cash, labor and materials from businesses and community groups before molding its schedule of projects.

The organization originally scheduled just one annual Rebuilding Day, but extra assistance from companies like Home Depot and Bank of America now allows for a year-round operation that includes a fall Rebuilding Day and Project Homefront, a special program to help military families repair and maintain their homes while a family member is deployed.

Rebuilding Together has also opened other doors for seniors. For example, Edwin Hoffman, a reverse-mortgage specialist for Wells Fargo, helped coordinate a RT project for a widow, 82, in Tacoma, Wash., two years ago.

The program brought the widow's home up to Federal Housing Administration standards. The woman was then able to get a reverse mortgage and use the proceeds to comfortably age in place with a remodeled kitchen, new roof, septic repair and two bathroom makeovers.

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. Volunteers must be at least 14 to participate.

For further information and a list of state chapters, visit

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Comments 1 - 9 of 9
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1. Jeanette Wright said... on Apr 19, 2011 at 08:54AM

“My mother is 75yrs old and on a fix income, she can't pay her monthly bills without help from me. Her roof is caving in and she can't afford to repair it and I can't afford to help her. So if there is a program that can help we both will be so grateful for any assistance you can give. Thank You!”

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2. cleveland bonner said... on Sep 8, 2011 at 03:44AM

“my roof is leaking excessively,on the verge of collapsing. i have a job but the pay is so little i cant even pay my mortgage with it,have not payed last months yet and now i must fix the roof before the kitchen is destroy below.I took off from work today to bail the buckets out.”

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3. denise said... on May 18, 2013 at 09:08AM

“looking for someone to repair roof -it is caving in
sleeping in living room until someone can help my family'
my sis and i have no money and brother is on ssi-can not get programs because cannot afford to change deed into our name
plumbing bad-windows out-wood floors rotten-please help”

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4. Anonymous said... on Sep 2, 2013 at 09:02AM

“Can u email me with a phone# I can't access your webste. Thanx!!”

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5. Dean houck said... on Oct 7, 2013 at 05:56AM

“I am 66 years old and disabled. My house needs work. My kitchen is in very very bad shape! My kitchen door is ready to fall off its Frame. My dick needs painting I don't have the money to do it! My steps to the upstairs is coming out of the wall. I do have some Foundation cracks . Floors are in bad shape in my house. I just don't have the money to do anything un able to do it witmyself! I just need help really bad”

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6. Ashley Street said... on Jan 15, 2014 at 04:33PM

“"My Grandparents Are 80 plus years of age and the entire house can fall at any giving moment.I try to talk thm iunto leaving until the house is completely fixed.I try and help as much as I possible can,she has ben struggling to pay her bills and try and fix the house for decades now.The home needs to just b knocked down and started from the being.It's a three story lovely home water damaged,its very very old any wrong wind or step the house can come crashing down on there head from the third floor.she has no bathroom no anything all the pipes are busted or backed up.Ive ben searching everywhere to hopefully find some help.Please help thank you”

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7. Anonymous said... on Mar 19, 2014 at 11:19PM

“Im a single dad of 2 year old twins daughters out of work i lifeguard for the city of Philadelphia for 6 years i had my own house but is many problems Roofing problems plumbing problems Electric problems so many problems I had to move back to my moms so hard living with hiv taking care of my kids and myself and the house need help Bad”

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8. Anonymous said... on Mar 21, 2014 at 10:03PM

“I'm a single m other and i'm a grandmother I need plumbing done it leaks on my front porch so bad it wet in my basement bathroom is where I got black mole on the celling I need new doors I work I don't make enough money my paycheck is small please can you help me.”

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9. Linda Robinson said... on Apr 14, 2014 at 09:59AM

“I have had problems keeping up with my home, for the past year, my children and I have to smell the foul smell that is coming from the hole under the toilet and my children have been sick more times than I can remember, My outlets in the dining room do not work so we have to eat dinner with little light, Please any help we can get will be very apprecited. I was told that I would have to wait another year for help from the city because they are back up, I am in college and on disability and can not afford to paid for it. Thank you foe your consideration in this matter.”


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