Repairing home sweet home: SNAP provides essential work for low-income homeowners
Kathryn Bell needed a couple of updates to the Spokane home she owns. A porch railing was falling over and her oven quit working properly.
The 92-year-old resident didn’t have the extra income to make repairs. She has lived alone since her husband died eight years ago.
This year, Bell qualified for a Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners’ program that does some minor household projects for free to low-income homeowners. SNAP arranged for the porch repair over the summer and replaced the kitchen stove in October.
“I’m very grateful for good health and being able to do all I can do,” Bell said. “I have volunteered and helped whenever I can.”
After working in a railroad job for 20 years, she later worked at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute for 26 years before retiring. She still volunteers at St. Luke’s and supports other community groups, but her retirement income is tight.
“I do a lot of baking for fundraisers, so I have to have a decent oven,” she said. “Everybody wanted me to have a decent oven.”
The stove and installation were included. In fact, the first stove brought to her didn’t function well, so that appliance was returned and a different one was delivered and set up. Bell said she appreciates SNAP’s support and now realizes how much she relied on the porch railing to get up some stairs.
In 2017, SNAP completed 906 home repair projects in the Spokane area. For 2018, the nonprofit still has funds for its Essential Home Repair Program to use before year-end.
Projects typically include repairs for septic or sewer issues, leaking faucets, hot water tanks, furnaces, appliances, accessibility needs such as wheelchair ramps and some electrical problems.
In order to qualify, a recipient in Spokane County must be a homeowner and have a household income below 50 percent of the area median income.
“With the cold weather descending, we feel there are low-income residents who may be having trouble with furnaces, hot water tanks, electrical issues; we fix all that and more,” said Craig Howard, a SNAP spokesman.
SNAP often works as its own general contractor sending crews to homes year-round but also uses local companies who contract with the nonprofit to handle work, such as for repairs for heating and air conditioning systems and plumbing.
The completed projects help people remain safely in their own homes, Howard said.
“This program provides essential support to homeowners who simply do not have the resources to cover important repairs.”
Overall, SNAP offers a total of about 30 programs and services to support low-income and homeless people, particularly with housing services. It provides help for energy assistance, foreclosure prevention, advocacy for seniors in assisted-living centers and first-time homebuyer counseling.
SNAP receives continuous funding for the Essential Home Repair Program and expects it to run through 2019.
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