Most people are familiar with Habitat for Humanity’s mission to partner with families to achieve affordable housing. It may come as a surprise to some, that Habitat for Humanity also repairs homes, addressing housing inadequacy among homeowners with limited resources. The Critical Home Repair Program helps ease health and safety issues while often increasing the quality of life in the home. We are proud to announce that we are approaching 100 households whose homes we have repaired, many of whom are retired, veterans and single parents.
Nearly 9 in 10 Americans between 50 and 80 years of age, said it’s important to remain in their homes as they grow older, a study from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging found. Financial and health issues often make it difficult for the elderly to address home repairs. For many people, maintaining a sense of independence by remaining in their home and community enables older adults to improve the quality of life. The New York Times reported that many older adults have a strong desire to maintain connections to their community and their friends. Moving from their home and community would cause a disruption to their life, disconnecting them from their friends and familiar surroundings. When older adults are surrounded by familiarity, routine, friendships, and an active social life, it can help prevent dementia and ailing health issues leading to a higher quality of life.
Thanks to the Critical Home Repair Program, we are helping elderly in our community age in place. Liz, a vibrant, 81-year-old Pasadena resident, lives in a 1930’s bungalow on a fixed income. Liz was recently faced with several repairs she was unable to afford. This past summer was exceptionally hot and extremely dangerous for Liz when her air conditioning/heating unit broke. That repair, coupled with the pipes bursting in her only bathroom, created a serious living hazard. She was incredibly grateful to the Critical Home Repair team that addressed her with dignity and her repairs with efficiency.
“Other types of programs have a feeling of judgement towards the applicant, questioning the recipient as if they have done something wrong in their life to require help,” Liz explained. “SGV Habitat was positive, uplifting, and partnered with me throughout the entire repair process. The attitude I felt from SGV Habitat was, ‘let’s help this person live a happy vibrant life’,” Liz said. Liz shared that the repairs to her house eased her stress, and allowed her to refocus on living her life, focus on her part-time business, and plan for her next personal adventure.
Manuel, 80, was enjoying his retirement years living in Duarte. In the past year, he faced difficulty with
the loss of a cherished relationship and his beloved dog, who was his daily companion for 20 years. The challenges he faced kept him secluded inside his home, with little desire to do the activities he once enjoyed. His home for more than 30 years was showing significant signs of disrepair; with floors that were splintering and warping, and a leak that created a gaping hole in his bathroom and garage—all creating an unhealthy environment, compressing his emotional well-being.
When he received the news that SGV Habitat would begin repairing his home, the darkness that had constricted him was brightened with a renewed sense of hope. He started once again enjoying the community of Duarte, attending concerts every week in the park. “I felt like I was in high school again,” Manuel exclaimed. He began to visit the senior center regularly, making new friends. He now has pride in his home. Instead of closing himself up, he opens his doors and welcomes friends over for lunch.
“SGV Habitat did more than fix my father’s home. They uplifted his spirits and gave him a fresh outlook on life. Habitat renewed his faith in humanity,” Anna Lisa, Manuel’s daughter, shared with tears in her eyes.
“If the Red Cross is for healing people, Habitat for Humanity is for fixing and building communities. They upgrade the quality of life. I love Habitat,” Manuel said earnestly.
Liz and Manuel expressed to SGV Habitat a sense of relief knowing that they had a team of experts on their side, not only uplifting their home, but their spirts as well. Uplifting spirts is exactly what homeowner Xochitl felt when she was introduced to our home repair team. Xochtil, is the mother of two children, Daisy (17) and Robert Jr. (13). Last year the family suffered a tragedy. Robert, Xochitl’s husband and father to Daisy and Robert Jr. passed away after battling an illness. Xochitl, who was a stay-at-home mom, was now faced with managing so much more than just the household and the children’s busy schedules. Her husband was the main income earner, and Xochitl contributed with a small baking business. Several of the repairs needed in the home, were in the kitchen. With her kitchen finished, free from dangerous electrical issues, Xochitl feels energized to expand her baking business, allowing her to provide for her family contributing to their long-term stability.
This multi-faceted home repair project had a significant emotional impact on Xochitl. “I cry every day in gratitude for the generosity of Habitat staff, donors and volunteers,” Xochitl’s said with tears. “It has been so difficult with Robert gone, he took care of all of the repairs to our house and our hearts, we will always miss him, but now we have hope that things will be ok,” she said.
Imagine for a moment, your circumstances find you in a place where you are faced with serious repairs on your home with little financial means to address the repairs. Think about your beloved parents, or grandparents facing the same situation. When you have navigated life to afford a home, raised a family, focused on your life aspirations, worrying about costly critical repairs can be a stressful disruption causing pressures leading to deficiencies in health and mental well-being.
As with all our programs, SGV Habitat offers a hand-up, rather than a hand-out to our qualifying home repair partners, requiring them to pay a portion of their home repair based on income and repair costs.
Your support in offering families a hand-up is much appreciated and needed in this time of soaring costs. For more information on how you can uplift families by supporting our Critical Home Repair Program, please visit www.sgvhabitat.org
Liz, Manuel, Xochitl, and our almost 100 home repair families, as well as our future homeowners, say, “Thank You.”