Even without hands and feet, Gail is still able to live in her home thanks, in part, to a Habitat for Humanity program.
Best known for helping lower income people live the dream of home ownership through their mission to provide “safe decent simple” housing through its signature build programs, now home repair and restoration are part of its model.
A Brush with Kindness is the home repair program helping people remain in their homes by matching up eligible homeowners with its low-cost repair program.
“They helped built a lift on my front porch so I can get into my house,” said Gail of Richland Township, A Brush with Kindness recipient.
Since homeownership isn’t just about the purchase, Habitat recognizes that helping people remain in their homes broadens the non-profit’s mission, too.
For Dorothy, also of Richland Township, being able to stay in her home means everything. Dorothy got a new storm door plus other entryway improvements to her home. “It helps me to use my house easier, and they did a super job,” Dorothy said.
“Home repair is especially important for older and disabled adults; they are the group that often needs modifications to keep their home accessible and safe,” said Karen Reever, coordinator for the innovative home repair program launched a few years ago by Habitat. “Being disabled, even temporarily, can really change your world,” Reever said.
Reever said Habitat consults with an occupational therapist who is a “Certified Aging in Place specialist for its A Brush with Kindness to make sure the repair program aligns with client needs.
The home repair program, gaining traction in Upper Bucks, helps Habitat work in an area which often doesn’t have suitable or large enough land tracts for new home construction, like the unique Emerald Hollow development completed more than a decade ago in Trumbauersville.
From home repairs to rehabbing, which is another variation of the program aimed at rehabilitating existing homes using the Habitat model, more families in Upper Bucks can be served, according to Florence Kawoczka, Habitat executive director.
Habitat’s “sweat equity” model adjusts slightly for the home repair program, keeping in mind seniors or the disabled may not have the ability to hoist building materials or wield a hammer.
“Providing help from other family members, or refreshments” even offering to give press interviews counts, Reever said.
While a new home requires 200 hours of “sweat equity” Kawoczka said rehabs and repairs are scaled to about 100 hours and might also include volunteer time at the Habitat for Humanity Chalfont ReStore.
The repair and rehab projects are also quick turnaround, under often under six months, so as many as five can be turned around in a shorter period of time. “Helping the neighborhoods by fixing up potentially blighted properties” is also a benefit, Kawoczka said.
“We see a ripple effect with our families. Those who have bought into our volunteer program want to help others. There’s a sense of pride. They take great care of their houses and get involved in their communities,” Kawoczka said. Some clients may be eligible for low interest loans to pay for their share of repairs.
Penn Community Bank employees have embraced Habitat. In fact, Habitat is the bank’s most popular volunteer partnership. Supporting Habitat ties directly into Penn Community’s mission of helping people become homeowners. “One of the most moving experiences is the dedication, when the keys get passed to the new owners,” said Todd Hurley, Penn Community Bank executive vice president and chief relationship officer.
Habitat is a global non-profit with operating affiliates in about 1400 local communities across the United States and 70 countries around the world.
Habitat’s work allows Gail, and many others, to remain in their homes, despite disability.
About Habitat for Humanity Chalfont ReStore: For more information about shopping, donating or volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity Chalfont ReStore, located at 31 Oak Avenue, Chalfont, visit www.habitatbucks.org, or call 215.822.2812.
Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce
An economic development agency for Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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