Roofs, Ramps, Home Repairs, and Heat! for Struggling Families and Elderly in Appalachia
Heat during the coldest days of winter is a basic need for families in Appalachia, but sadly that’s not always available for many families, the elderly and disabled living in distressed communities of the region.
Throughout Appalachia there are countless homeowners struggling to get by working minimum wage jobs while supporting their families who need a leaking roof repaired, and elderly and disabled individuals surviving on meager fixed incomes who cannot safely exit and enter their homes on their own.
In addition, there are untold thousands more who are facing the choice between putting food on the table or paying an overdue utility bill to keep the heat and power on in their homes, and renters who are potentially facing homelessness if their utilities are disconnected, even if their rent is fully paid.
But through Americans Helping Americans® home rehab and utility assistance programs, today there are thousands who have been able to remain in their homes thanks to our supporters from across the country, our grassroots partners in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia and dedicated, selfless volunteers.
Support in Tennessee
In Jefferson City, Tennessee, Appalachian Ministries of the Smokies (AMOS), operates a home repair ministry supported by Americans Helping Americans® which operates in a four-county area providing home repairs at no cost to families living in substandard conditions.
Executive director Jean-Ann Washam says grant funding from Americans Helping Americans® is used “to address the critical needs of the home in an effort to keep the family in the home and prevent homelessness. Families served include the disabled, elderly, single parents, veterans and indigent families.”
Jean-Ann notes that although there are other organizations in the region that provide assistance with home repair, the recipients are responsible for part of the cost, or pay all the expenditures with a no interest loan.
“AMOS is the only ministry that provides the services on an on-going basis at no cost to the family.”
Beneficiaries are fully vetted, with requirements for home repair assistance being the submission of a home repair application, identification for everyone in the household, deed to home (or title it if is a mobile home), be current on their property taxes and mortgage, along with providing proof of income and expenditures.
AMOS recruits volunteers from multiple local church denominations locally, as well as throughout the U.S. who volunteer their time and talents to help strangers (to them) in need.
“Volunteers meet the homeowners and typically develop a relationship that extends beyond the week they are serving,” says Jean-Ann.
“Utilizing volunteers allows AMOS to stretch the grant funding received – therefore, serving additional families.”
For the coming year, with grant funding from Americans Helping Americans®, Jean-Ann expects that AMOS will be able to provide home repairs to 10 families, benefiting 25 individuals, in need living in rural east Tennessee at no cost, noting that “some of these families would be forced to move in with other family members, go to a nursing home, or become homeless.”
Support in West Virginia
In McDowell County, West Virginia, our partner there, Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA), will be using its grant funding from Americans Helping Americans® to repair a projected 25 or more homes benefiting up to 90 individuals.
McDowell County has the lowest standard of housing in West Virginia, reports BCPIA co-executive director Dyanne Spriggs.
“Many of our residents suffer because they are not physically able, or have the financial resources, to improve their living conditions. There are people in our community who have actual holes in their floors.
“We have a never-ending stack of applications and serve them as we can by matching people’s needs with the level of skills of a group.”
BCPIA’s home rehab projects include repairing roofs, flooring, bathrooms and porches, exterior and interior painting as well as constructing handicap ramps for the disabled and elderly, with materials and supplies with grant funding from Americans Helping Americans®.
“The expected result of our housing rehabilitation program will be that families will have one less thing to worry about if we are able to fix the health and safety hazards in their homes.
“With the help of Americans Helping Americans®, and so many dedicated volunteers, we can make a difference in people’s lives by fixing the holes in their floors and putting a roof over the heads.
“We would not be able to work on people’s homes if we did not receive the funding to do it…without Americans Helping Americans® funding, many families would have to be turned away.”
Support in Georgia
And in Gainesville, Georgia, our longtime partner there, LAMP Ministries, operates a utility assistance program that helps families be able to stay together in the homes they rent without fear of eviction if their utilities are disconnected for nonpayment.
“Without power and heat, the children are in jeopardy of being removed from the home,” says LAMP executive director Mary Mauricio, who expects to provide assistance to up to 380 households in the coming year with utility assistance.
Among those receiving assistance this year was Lynette Brown who wrote: “I want to thank you for helping me by paying my power bill last month.
“I can’t express with words just how much I really appreciate you. It means so much to know there are people like you who care about people like me.”
Mary notes that the utility assistance funding from Americans Helping Americans® allows LAMP to be able to continue supporting families still suffering from the aftermath of covid “with immediate and necessary assistance for utilities.
“Without these funds, we would not be able to aid families in their time of need, especially with heating their home and cooking, two extremely vital necessities.”