Home repair a crucial part of protecting affordable housing

With new CDBG funding, Brothers Redevelopment hopes to help more people stay in their homes

Liam Adams
ladams@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 8/9/21

Emergency home repair is another way to keep people in their homes. Keeping people housed is top-of-mind for many, given that a sweeping federal eviction moratorium just expired and a newer, narrower …

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Home repair a crucial part of protecting affordable housing

With new CDBG funding, Brothers Redevelopment hopes to help more people stay in their homes

Posted

Emergency home repair is another way to keep people in their homes.

Keeping people housed is top-of-mind for many, given that a sweeping federal eviction moratorium just expired and a newer, narrower one took its place.

But eviction isn’t the only way people involuntarily leave their homes and become vulnerable to the rising rental costs in the Denver metro area. Jason Mccullough, a program manager for the nonprofit Brothers Redevelopment, explained that seniors on fixed incomes who have difficulty fixing up their homes end up moving out and entering overpriced rental situations.

“We’ve got folks that paid their house off years ago, but they are paying $900 a month in lot fees,” Mccullough said, referring to seniors who moved into mobile home parks, one example he has seen. Seniors who move into mobile home parks then might become vulnerable to eviction because the park owns the lot, even if that person owns the mobile home on top of it.

So, the work that Brothers Redevelopment does through its home modification and repair program seeks to prevent that. When the nonprofit repairs peoples’ homes, those residents don’t have to move out.

“The Denver metro area, and the surrounding Front Range area, is running out of lots to build affordable housing units. So, we convert what’s there and protect what’s there,” Mccullough said.

There are four categories to Brother’s home modification program: home safety, safe access, deferred maintenance, and damage repair. The work might be more minor handyman-type tasks, such as electrical repair, to building a wheelchair ramp for someone’s front door.

Brothers funds its home repair program through community development block grant funding, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program, which it receives from local municipalities. Westminster and Thornton city councils approved annual allocations for community development block grant funding last week.

Beverly Kinard, an 86-year-old Arvada resident, had Brothers do a series of home repairs including building a wheelchair ramp on her front porch, poured new cement on her driveway, repaired the chairlift going up the stairs, and put in new tiling on the bathroom floor.

Before connecting with Brothers, Kinard was looking at a $7,000 estimate for a new wheelchair ramp. “It was not anything that I could have afforded,” she said. The work Brothers did on her house didn’t cost Kinard a cent.

Without the repairs, “I would have had to move,” Kinard said. “And it would have been a very traumatic move for me.”

Many residents in the metro area are in similar positions to what Kinard was in, Mccullough said. “We’ve been in a crisis mode for years now, and it’s not on the radar because I think we have gotten in the industry so complacent. The problem is so big, it’s, ‘where do you start?’”

As a result, Mccullough said suburban municipalities might need to start thinking about rent control or affordability zones because of how dire the issue is, as he sees it. He said, “We’re going to have to have some difficult conversations that usually we think bigger cities have to have.”

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