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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



Meeting Critical Needs - Stewarding Resources to Help the Most Vulnerable

House needing workWe get many more requests for help than we can possibly meet. They can range from changing out a toilet valve, to painting a room, to replacing an entire roof. To make the biggest Kingdom impact, and to help people in the most desperate situations, HRM’s focus is on meeting the most critical needs, including:

  • Providing or improving access to a home (and the outside world) with ramps and widened doorways to help the disabled live their life more fully.
  • Addressing safety issues by adding grab bars in a bathroom, repairing roof leaks, replacing rotten railings, steps and floors (especially if water is present) and changing out electrical switches or outlets which are inoperable or dangerous.
  • Avoiding fines or possible home condemnations by taking on projects to address violations and citations.
  • Preventing multi-hundred dollar utility bills for people on fixed incomes, or with low income, by providing light plumbing for water leaks .
  • Removing conditions which make a home unlivable, such as animals or pests in the home.
  • Supporting or enabling people involved in the work of the Kingdom, with projects such as renovations or repairs for families involved in adopting or fostering children.

We find that people who call us often remove themselves from consideration once we explain the priority of critical needs.


Homeowner Spotlight - Rodrick

Rodrick and His RampMeet Rodrick Peterson, or as Andre, our Urban Atlanta Ministry Director calls him, Rod the Determinator (for his resolve). Rod’s strong desire was to be able to get his power wheelchair out of the house and up the street so he could catch the bus (or a ride with a friend), visit his doctor and just live life. He could barely get out of the house and up the street on his crutches, but by the time he got there, he was completely worn out. Andre built him a ramp, which lets him get up the hill with his wheelchair, see his friends and live independently. Rodrick has asked for Andre to disciple him.


Practical Love - Serving People with Mobility Needs

If you have read our newsletter for very long, you have likely seen articles about wheelchair ramps, lifts, track systems, walkways, widened doorways, grab bars, loose railings, and other ways to address people’s mobility needs.

Elderly Homeowner Gets Access to Her Home BackWhile the means to the end can vary wildly, the end always remains the same - showing and sharing Christ’s love with people in a highly practical way, helping them gain more use of their homes and independence while improving their quality of life. That is loving our neighbors as ourselves and thanking the Father who demonstrated His love to us in the person of Jesus.

Want to know what a difference mobility can make in someone's life? Here are some real-life examples we have encountered:

  • People in unsafe situations and facing their homes being condemned, which could result in institutionalization, stayed in their home because repairs were made.
  • Others, released from rehab centers, could go home because it was made accessible. They also now had a way out in the face of a fire or other emergency.
  • Bathrooms were adapted to allow people to get in and out on their own, preserving dignity and independence.
  • Home repairs were made that enabled caregivers to physically move their loved ones in, out and within the home and prevented lifting injuries to both the caregiver and receiver.

So what do you say? Do you have a couple handy guys in your church who could make life a little easier for someone with a disability? Sometimes the homeowner can pay for the materials and sometimes they can't. There are other creative ways to pay for projects like this that we have posted on our website for churches that register for the site (it's free!).

Or, can you help people with disabilities by supporting HRM's work to make homes more accessible? Partner with HRM