Editor’s note: Smith County Habitat for Humanity is building its 100th house. To mark the milestone, I am devoting Good Neighbors columns in November to spotlighting the work of this agency. Deanna Harrison, the nonprofit agency’s director of development, is serving as today’s guest columnist.
Smith County Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Habitat is best known for building new homes for low-income families and selling them at no interest. But Smith County Habitat also makes critical home repairs for people in need.
Many critical repair projects are for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.
“Some of our clients are confined to wheelchairs and don’t have full access to their homes until we widen doorways, build ramps and install handrails,” said Raimund Gideon, director of the critical repair program.
“One elderly woman had to fill up five-gallon buckets of water from a street water line and carry them into her house, just so she would have water for cleaning, cooking, bathing and even to flush the toilet,” Gideon said.
Since beginning its critical home repair program in October 2009, Smith County Habitat has completed more than 221 projects, 82 in the last fiscal year alone. Funding for the critical repair program comes from grantors such as the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, TXU, Home Depot and private donors.
Funding from the Home Depot Repair Corps has enabled Smith County Habitat to make critical repairs on the homes of 19 veterans.
“Many low-income families in our community live in deplorable conditions,” Jack Wilson, Smith County Habitat’s CEO, said. “One woman told me she had enough money to buy food and then medicine or sometimes she had to buy medicine and then food. But she had no money left over for home maintenance.”
To qualify for the critical repair program, a homeowner must have an income that is less than 80 percent of the median income of Smith County and must have proof of ownership.
For more information, call 903-595-6630, extension 214.