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Keeping the Vulnerable in Their Home

Replacing a Deck for an Elderly WomanCan you imagine being uprooted from the home and community you have lived in for decades? That is the dilemma many HRM clients face. The issue could be a crushing fine for a housing violation a fixed-income senior can't afford. Or an inability to safely get out of or around a home, due to a disability or the ravages of aging. Or a water leak deteriorating the structure of a home. These are just some of the scenarios low-income homeowners face, and they can lead to injury, health risks, liens being placed on the home, eviction, foreclosure or even institutionalization. Here are the stories of two homeowners who faced situations like these.

One was a disabled couple whose water heater was pouring water into the basement. This presented multiple problems. One was the safety risk and damage caused by water in the basement. The other was the specter of having multiple-hundred dollar water and gas bills. The homeowners' best solution was to hook up a hose to dump the hot water outside. We explained how to shut off the water heater until we arrived, then replaced the drain valve. It saved them from more unaffordable water bills. We also wrote to their water company, to let them know what happened, and request a write-off of the current bill.

The second was a woman, with Multiple Sclerosis and little use of her limbs, had extensive rotted trim around her windows. Having seen problems arise when citations are issued by homeowners' associations and counties, along with fines and threats, we worked to prevent the process from ever starting by repairing her trim. Together, her church and HRM have served her several times, helping her to stay in her home.

Generous, compassionate supporters empower us to serve hurting people. In fact, they will help HRM complete more than 230 projects, and help an estimated 575 people, in 2017. Will you join with them and help show and share Christ's love to vulnerable homeowners, by making a donation to HRM?


Food, Mortgage or Repair - The Crushing Choice

Imagine that you don't have enough financial resources to meet your basic needs - food, shelter and bills. Then you're hit with a critical home repair need affecting safety, or your independence is threatened because your ability to access the home is jarringly impacted because of aging, disease or disability. Or your already scant funds are being drained through utility problems, like leaky plumbing. Think these are just isolated cases?

A Critical Home Repair Need35 million metropolitan homes in the United States, or 40 percent, contain one or more health and safety hazards.1 An October 3, 2012 survey by HomeServe shows that one in five homeowners faces a repair expense they cannot afford.2 To give you some context from our part of the country, according to Families First®, “1.8 million Georgians do not have enough money to meet basic needs, such as food, housing and medication.”3 People facing these needs are forced into a very difficult decision. Do they cut a necessity or live with a known safety or health hazard in their home?

What Can You Do?

Our experience has been that homeowners in these situations are typically widows, single mothers, seniors or people with disabilities. There are a couple ways you can help them.

First, if you are a member of a church, and you have some handy skills, probably the most effective thing you can do is start your own team. Sound daunting? It doesn't need to be. In fact, you can start small, perhaps handling lawncare needs for seniors in your church. We provide no-cost resources that can help you think through starting a team. Home Repair Ministry Resources

Second, if you live in the Atlanta area, join us on a project. We have much more need than we can meet!

Third, invest in the lives of struggling, low-income homeowners by making a donation to Home Repairs Ministries. Last year, HRM completed over 200 projects in the community, a new record. Some of these projects were for other nonprofits/service agencies, enabling them to serve more people in need with repairs and/or facility modifications (here's one example). This is the third straight year of 120+ projects completed!

Footnotes:

1 - Article by Wendy Koch in the September 30 edition USA Today, entitled "Mice, leaks, holes: 40% of metro homes have hazards" (McLean, Va.: Gannett Co., 2013)

2 - Source: HomeServe survey cited in October 3 Fox Business News article - www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/10/03/do-need-added-homeowner-insurance/

3 - Families First® Overview 07-06-14 (Atlanta, GA.: Families First, 2014), 5. Downloaded from
http://www.atlantaregional.com/File Library/About Us/committee agendas/ELUC/ELUC Subcommittee on Poverty/Families-First-Overview_7-16-14.pdf



The Forgotten All Around Us

I sometimes wonder how some seniors make it from one day to the next. We recently served one who has a split-level house with many problems and struggles with numerous physical ailments. Just recently, she was hospitalized and had surgery for chronic nose bleeds. All of these things have contributed to severe financial hardship. In fact, at one point, she had no water or gas at her house, and was using firewood for heat.

There are people like these all around us - forgotten, overwhelmed and unable to even maintain decent living conditions in their homes. A home repair ministry at your church can serve people in these kinds of situations. Can you imagine what an encouragement it would be to show them, and share, Christ's love in a practical way, as you remind them that they are not forgotten, and help make their homes safer? Do you have some handy men or women in your church who can be turned loose for Kingdom service? If so, we can help you get started! We have some no-cost church ministry resources available to help you organize a team.

What kind of impact can you have? We have been able to serve this senior on multiple projects, over the years. It's probably not overstating matters to say that, because of our volunteers and donors, she has been able to stay in her home. Some of the projects we have worked on include:

  • Insulating between the main floor and crawl space

  • Re-siding the chimney frame

  • Patching of several roof leaks

  • Repairing burst water lines from not having heat in the house

  • Replacing and enlarging her deck - it was too shallow to allow the storm door to safely open

We have been able to do all of this because God has brought multiple volunteers with varied skills. If your church doesn't have all these skills available, let us encourage you to start where you are. Somewhere in your church and/or community are seniors who will be blessed immensely by it. If you want to support Home Repairs Ministries work to serve low-income homeowners, you can choose your option here.



Here Comes The Boom

If you follow the news, you’re probably aware that the nation is aging… Rapidly. The statistics are out there and they’re startling.

According to the Federal Administration on Aging, in just 30 years the nation’s population of those 65 and older will double. Pair that fact with these statistics and a critical need, and an opportunity, starts to emerge –

  • According to a recent AARP housing survey, “83% of older Americans want to stay in their current homes for the rest of their lives,” but other studies show that most homes are not designed to accommodate the needs of people over age 65.
  • Most older people live in homes that are more than 20 years old.
  • Research by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that home modifications and repairs may prevent 30% to 50% of all home accidents among seniors, including falls that take place in these older homes.

And did you know that over 82.7 percent of Americans 70 – 74 own their homes? In fact, all age groups over 65 have a home ownership percentage over 80%!1

Handicap Ramp PictureSo, what’s it all mean? Well, for one thing, older Americans are going to need help maintaining their houses and making them accessible. Their homes, which tend to be older, are going to need repairs more frequently to keep them safe. And accessibility updates will keep them independent and in their homes longer.

We have an opportunity to love and honor our parents, grandparents, mentors and friends by helping them with their home repairs and accessibility needs. And this community outreach could be coming to you! What an opportunity for your church to show and share the love of Christ to those in need in a very practical way!

Not sure where to start? We have materials to help churches of all sizes and stages get a team started, or to grow their existing ministry. If you have any interest in starting a team, please register today.

See the resources for your church to start a team

Home Modification Questions to Ask for Accessibility (from eldercare.gov)

1 – U. S. Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership (CPS/HVS): 2013. (Table 7. Homeownership Rates by Age of Householder: Third Quarter 2012 and 2013)