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Archive for the ‘Providing Relief’ Category

Marianne's Story: Helping a Widow Facing a Possible Mortgage Default

Often, new widows face significant hurdles as they attempt to put their life back together. Marianne proved that point with epic challenges looming over her shortly after her husband died. A faithful believer, Marianne's homeowners insurance company told her that they wouldn’t renew the policy until she had the roof replaced, two months after her husband died. Non-renewal of insurance can lead to a default on your mortgage. They gave her one month to rectify the problem. HRM, six churches and Meet the Need Atlanta were able to replace Marianne’s roof, which enabled her to get insurance on the home. HRM has been blessed to serve Marianne in other ways since then, over the years, including:

  • Installing gutter covers

  • Patching holes in a gable

  • Advocating for her with a heating & air company to get her system working (in cooperation with Gwinnett County Senior Services)

  • Recruiting a church youth group to clean up her yard after a citation

  • Sharing Christ with her dying friend


Find out more about HRM's work to serve people in need:

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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.



"The Biggest Blessing I've Ever Received"

We got a reminder recently of what a difference a relatively mundane thing, like putting on a new roof, can make for a hurting person. This should be an encouragement to all followers of Christ. You have practical skills and abilities you can use and give to bless others. What are they? Putting that gift to use for someone in need might just give you an opportunity to share why you're doing it. That's the great thing about a mercy ministry like home repair. What a great way to introduce a hurting person to Christ, or encourage a believer going through a trial!

Ms. Ingram had experienced an incredible series of major difficulties befall her. She shared, "I'm a widow of two years and shortly after my husband’s death I went blind. My roof was leaking and then part of my ceiling fell in." .

The Lord has provided for her in some amazing ways. After four surgeries, her vision was restored. But she still had house problems to deal with – roof leaks and several other necessary repairs. That’s where, through supporters like you, HRM was able to enter the picture.

The eave of Ms. Ingram’s roof was improperly built and had large gaps. We stripped the roof, rebuilt the way the fascia boards were attached (gutters had torn them loose), did a lot of deck repair and reinforcement, and installed long-life shingles. Representatives from five churches participated.

Ms. Ingram

A Recent Widow Received Several Repairs and a New Roof.

The project had an amazing impact on her. Here is how she described it in her own words:

"I'm very grateful to Harvey, Andre, and the volunteers for the very hard work they put into my new roof and all the major repairs needed. I've had my eye surgery and with my restored eyesight and new roof I can work. This is the biggest blessing I’ve ever received in my life and carries heavy on my heart to pass this blessing forward."


So, who are your Ms. Ingram's? How can you be out in the community showing and sharing Jesus' love with people in need? If your church is interested in pursuing home repair as a mercy ministry, we'd love to help you get started. We have no-cost resources designed to help churches start or grow teams. Learn from our mistakes! Church home repair resources



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.


One Thing the World Desperately Need to See - The Visible Gospel

I think many in our country today share the following attitude towards Christianity: "Show me the gospel!!!" (with respects to the movie, Jerry Maguire). As society drifts away from knowledge of what the Bible teaches, I believe it's helpful for people to see Jesus (through Christians serving), so they can hear Jesus.

Jesus, Himself, in the Sermon on the Mount, directed His followers to, “...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16, ESV). 1 Peter 2:12 exhorts Christians to “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles (unbelievers) honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (ESV).

Decimated bathroomThat’s one of the things that’s so exciting about home repair. Homeowners, and those watching, understand how important it is to live in a safe home, and they can see the value and relief we provide, in Jesus’ name. Many of those we serve face very difficult financial decisions. Will the homeowner fix the leaky roof that threatens the structural integrity of the entire house, feed her family, buy her medication or pay utilities? Through our supporters and volunteers, HRM can help alleviate some of these financial and safety challenges, and serving them can provide an opportunity to share why we’re serving - the wonderful gift which Jesus has given us - eternal life and a personal relationship with God, through His shed blood, to pay for our sins (and it’s available to you, too, Mr. or Ms. Homeowner!).

Would you like to partner with us and help show and share the gospel with low-income homeowners? Support HRM's work




Serving the Hurting - Meet Thelma

When we met Thelma, she was a 72-years-old, and also a grandmother and a strong Christian. She had rescued her six- and seven-year-old grandchildren from the foster care system in New York. One of these children tested positive for prenatal crack cocaine exposure, and she thinks that the other one was exposed, as well. She was working to adopt them, and had already paid a large sum in attorneys' fees. She also had been hit with a large, unbudgeted repair for her septic tank drain field. So, when a sliding glass door rotted and fell off the track, she did the only thing that she could think of - jam it closed from the outside with a wooden wedge. Now she had an inoperative door, no rear exit from the house (a significant safety issue), no budget and no idea where to turn for help. This is just the sort of scenario that we love to get involved with!

First, HRM talked her through enrolling as a client of Gwinnett County Senior Services. They authorized the funds for a replacement door. We often talk about the importance of partnering with other nonprofits and agencies, and this situation shows why - together we can do much more than we could separately and make a bigger impact on the community! HRM installed the new door at no cost, and was helped by a young man serving mandatory community service hours.

Thelma is thankful to God for providing HRM and meeting her many challenges. Your support help us to invest the time, skill and sometimes money for materials (though we often find someone to make the purchase or deeply discount the price), that homeowners like Thelma need.

These stories are not possible without the generous support of many people. As the year draws to a close, will you prayerfully consider a year-end gift to HRM to help us continue the work of serving homeowners in distress and showing them the love of Christ? Thank you and God bless you!

Make a Year-End Gift to Help People Like Thelma