OTTAWA — Putnam County Habitat for Humanity Critical Home Repair program marks its two-year anniversary this month and since 2017 there have been 20 home repairs, two in progress and five more planned.
Lives have been changed with projects being completed that range from addressing unsafe roofing or flooring, lack of heat, electrical and plumbing hazards, structural repairs and repairing or replacing windows and doors, according to Matt Rau, Habitat executive director.
“When we build new homes we are tied to communities that have water and sewage systems. With the home repair program it does not require that and allows us to go out to all the communities in the county to make repairs,” Rau said.
Rau said 14 percent of Putnam County homes were built between 1940 to 1959 and 27 percent of Putnam County homes were built prior to 1939.
He said the largest population that benefits from the home repairs is single elderly women. Statistics of approved applicants include 82% single person applicants, 53% single females. 71% single applicants ages 62 and older and 67% receive SSI or SSDI.
The economic impact of the program is $1,005,263 with $136,389 in repairs for the 20 projects.
A selection committee chooses a homeowner to receive the repairs based on level of need, willingness to become a partner and ability to repay a mortgage loan.
Chas Myers, Habitat critical home repair manager, said if the projects are plumbing, heating or HVAC then contractors are hired.
Habitat receives volunteers by word or mouth or from churches and organizations who are skilled in repairs.
“When we started this program we thought we would go in to fix broken windows or make a bathroom handicap accessible, but did not anticipate we would be doing major repairs,” Myers said.
There have been two critical home repair projects where homeowners have not had running water, two projects where there was no heat in the home and a major foundation basement wall replacement as well as several roof repairs.
“A lot of the people who are calling in for this program are single elderly people who are widows. They are on fixed incomes and their husband took care of their home and they don’t know what to do and can’t afford the work by themselves,” Myers said.
Vincent “Doc” Eickholt, has served as a volunteer for Habitat’s critical home repair program this year.
“I had worked construction with my dad and maintenance for years at GM and decided I would help with the program,” Eickholt said. He has assisted with home repairs in Leipsic and Continental with tasks that included repairing bathrooms and front porches for a single lady who had no running water and her lines were clogged. A plumbing contractor put in an filtration system.
“The reward is in my heart knowing that I have helped someone,” Eickholt said.
Jerry Hanneman, home repair leader, joined Habitat two years ago.
“I started working on new home repairs and then helped with the critical home repair program,” Hanneman said. He said he felt fortunate with the occupations he has had that have included an engineer to use those skills to help others.
He has done home repairs that have included putting up walls and new flooring in homes and insulating the home.
An upcoming project will be to do a roof repair this weekend in rural Leipsic and a home received new siding in the same town this week.
Ottawa resident Bonnie Rayle, who has lived in her home for the past 35 years, was the first recipient of the home repair program when her roof was repaired in September 2017.
“I needed a new roof because the roof over my garage was 30 years old as well as the roof over my home was leaking,” Rayle said.
She heard about the program from her mother and decided to apply to receive a new roof. Rayle contacted Habitat and filled out the required paperwork said it was a God send to receive the work.
To qualify to receive critical home repairs a person must live in Putnam County and be the only home they own, owned their home for at least two years, be current on property taxes, agree to background screenings and credit checks and agree to complete sweat equity hours.
For more information about Habitat visit www.putnamohhabitat.org
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.