Fulton partners with Meals on Wheels to offer home repairs to seniors

Meals On Wheels Atlanta volunteer George Messner delivers food to a recipient.

Credit: contributed by Meals On Wheels Atlanta

Credit: contributed by Meals On Wheels Atlanta

Meals On Wheels Atlanta volunteer George Messner delivers food to a recipient.

Elderly homeowners in Fulton County will soon have a new opportunity to qualify for free home repairs.

The county government is partnering with Meals On Wheels Atlanta to offer a Home Rehabilitation Program to low-income seniors, the county announced earlier this month. The nonprofit will be the point of contact for applicants, determining eligibility, conducting inspections and overseeing work, according to the announcement.

Fulton will provide $1.4 million in funding, using a mix federal dollars and money from the county’s general fund, said Mark Baucom, a county spokesperson.

No work has started yet, as applications are still being gathered and reviewed, he said. But the county expects to complete up to 60 home repairs by the end of the year.

Meals On Wheels Atlanta has provided home repairs for years, according to Charlene Crusoe-Ingram, the nonprofit’s CEO. It has its own handypersons do small repairs, and a longstanding partnership with the Home Depot Foundation to fix veterans’ houses.

“Our mission is about feeding seniors, but we got feedback from volunteers as they delivered meals over the years that people’s porches were falling in, roofs were leaking,” she said.

The organization has also sought grants for repairs and formed partnerships with local governments.

The organization has worked on about 400 houses over the years, she said. The new partnership with Fulton County will allow the nonprofit to expand its work. Fulton gave MOWA a list of about 200 applicants from county records, and MOWA is sifting through those for need and eligibility.

“We go out and do inspections and determine eligibility based on a whole series of household verifications and checklists,” Crusoe-Ingram said.

Work will be directed toward safety issues such as electrical repairs, roof work and HVAC, at costs up to $10,000 or $15,000, she said.

“Generally these seniors are living on a fixed income, so these expenditures are out of their budget,” Crusoe-Ingram said.

The county-provided list is a mix of people who showed interest in the county’s previous Minor Home Repair Program or the Department of Senior Services Repair Program, Baucom said.

The new Home Rehabilitation Program will be the county’s only avenue for helping people with accessibility, maintenance code and safety issues, he said.

In the initial announcement, five cities, including Atlanta, were excluded from the program. But it has been expanded to cover every city in Fulton County, Baucom said.

“The work that we’re going to do is certainly centered within the city of Atlanta,” Crusoe-Ingram said.

Repairs can include electrical work, HVAC repair or replacement and other health and safety issues. Roof, plumbing work, water heater repairs and weatherization work is also eligible for funding.

To qualify, the applicant has to own the house that needs repair, and have lived in it for at least a year. It has to be a single-family house, not a condominium. Property tax and mortgage payments have to be up to date.

“Cases may be prioritized for households with vulnerable members such as young children and elderly adults,” the announcement said.

Applicants must make no more than 80% of the area’s median income as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. Income limits vary by household size; one-person households can make up to $48,300, while two-person households can make up to $55,200.

For more information and to apply visit https://portal.neighborlysoftware.com/FULTONCOUNTYGA/Participant, call MOWA Chief Project Officer Vona Cox at 404-351-3889, or email info@mealsonwheelsatlanta.org.