Habitat For Humanity branches into home repairs for seniors

Health

Stop in at James Decker’s house and you’ll likely find this retiree and cancer survivor bringing life to a blank canvass or writing messages in calligraphy. On a fixed income, and having gone through expensive cancer treatment, getting a much needed roof seemed out of reach.

“We’ve lived in the house for 20 years and it’s been the same roof so I had had some leaking in fact in the next room I had a ceiling fall down and there’s some evidence of  leaking and so I had had it patched but the chief problem was that there was a hole in the roof over my garage,” said James Decker.

He read about a Habitat for Humanity program specifically for seniors. The program is called Continuing Hope.

“Non-profits have to be flexible with their programs and their funding because it’s always ebb and flow with monies and who we serve. So we noticed a lot of calls were coming in for repairs. So providing safe affordable  housing for seniors just fit right in,” said Louise Hurless, Executive Director, Columbus Area Habitat for Humanity.

Why seniors? Hurless says approximately 70 percent of houses in Columbus were built before 1990 and almost 56 percent were built before 1980. Many seniors age in place because on fixed incomes it may be impossible to move or repair the homes they have. That’s where Continuing Hope comes in. Seniors who are homeowners with adequate insurance, can apply for critical repairs.

“New heating system, plumbing, roof leaks, anything that’s critical that needs to be done on the house and those projects run up to at least 10,000 dollars,” said Hurless.

To qualify for the Critical Repair Grant, you must own a home in Muscogee County and have adequate insurance, be 62 or have a disability, up to 80% of the median income. Median income for Muscogee County is $59,600 for a family of four.

The Aging in Place Modifications Grant may include improved lighting, and changing bathtubs into shower units. To qualify for the Aging in Place Modifications Grant you must also own a home in Muscogee County, have adequate insurance, be 65 and up to 60% of the median income.

James Decker got a new roof.

“I’m confident in my new roof. It has really stabilized the house,” said Decker.

Continuing Hope is made possible by grants and a partnership between Habitat, Wells Fargo, Columbus NeighborWorks and HUD through the City of Columbus.

To apply, call (706) 653-6003.

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