By Raisa Habersham, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
May 28, 2019
A leaky sink or a failing roof could determine if seniors can afford to stay in their house or must move. A new grant could help keep some in their homes.
Residents living in neighborhoods surrounding the old Turner Field in Atlanta will soon get help with costly home repairs through a $100,000 grant from the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority. The Stadium Neighborhoods Community Trust Fund Committee will help administer the funds.
“If their ceiling falls in or their porch floor falls in, they could get hurt and they might have to go to an assisted living center,” Atlanta councilwoman Carla Smith said.
The grant will be dispersed among 12 homeowners over the age of 55 in five neighborhoods — Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, and Summerhill, and a portion of Grant Park. More homes might be added later.
For some of them, “this is the only way they would have help,” Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She sponsored legislation for the grant, which unanimously passed in City Council last week.
HouseProud, an organization that primarily serves seniors, selected the homeowners who will get help and will be performing the repairs. Executive Director Lisa Jones said most residents have roof issues.
“It’s deferred maintenance because it costs so much to replace the entire roof,” Jones said. “A senior may patch things in between then until its fixed.”
Jones has been working with the organization for 15 years when it was originally a part of the Atlanta Community Tool Bank, which provides home tools and assistance for volunteer projects. HouseProud became a separate organization in 2012.
Repairs are expected to begin in the next few weeks and last no more than six months, Jones said. Other repairs on the homes will include floor stabilization, ramp installation and plumbing and electrical repairs.
Jones said there are 38 total houses that need work and is hoping to partner with organizations such as Home Depot to make repairs.
Jones said the five intown neighborhoods have a vast elderly population. And it could grow: older residents are projected to make up 24 percent of metro Atlanta's population by 2024, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission.
And home repairs aren’t seniors only concern.
“Because our areas are gentrifying, we have lots of seniors who need homes painted because they’re getting approached by investors,” Jones said. “If a home doesn’t look good, they’re a prime target for an investor to come along and buy that home for a lot less than its worth.”
Jones said such tactics often cheat the senior, leaving them with fewer funds to purchase a newer home.
“A senior needs to be able to have a quality of life in our neighborhoods,” Mechanicsville resident Jane Ridley said. Ridley serves on the Stadium Neighborhoods Community Trust Fund Committee, which oversees the five neighborhoods and helps with affordable housing and job training.
Ridley, 74, moved to the neighborhood in 1991. She said many of the homes are older and residents often call her for help with home repair issues.
“When you’re on a fixed salary or low-income and you need a roof, where are you going to get the money from unless you get a grant?” she said.
Ridley said she hopes Jones can use some of the funds to help other homes.
“If she can leverage the money and get 30 (homes repaired) we will be happy and so will those homeowners,” she said.