Reparing Home, Community, and Hope

Most people know Austin Habitat builds affordable homes for deserving families, but our lesser-known Home Repair Program is making a big difference in the community as well. The client standards are the same - they must make 60% or less than the Median Family Income ($46,000 for a family of four) - and their quality of life is just as negatively impacted by inadequate housing as our Affordable Homeownership Program families. 

One of these people is Bobbie Jones January - a long, long time resident of east Austin.

Bobbie resides in one of those quintessential, quaint eastside homes many people covet. Nestled between two newly built, modernly designed structures, it sits on a little hill that provides a view of the skyline. At the age of 67, she's lived here for 60 years. She is the 3rd generation calling it home and raised the 4th under the same roof she grew up under. The 5th generation can often be found playing in the den or falling

asleep in front of the television. "My kids are grown and all have their own homes, but they're still always here. This is a family house," she says.

Family is extremely important to Bobbie and reaches well beyond the people who are her direct relatives. She's a volunteer at heart and has been for decades. For years she ran her own "dress for success" type program, going to schools and churches to teach young women how to dress professionally. After her parents passed away from cancer, she began working with the American Cancer Society. Now, alongside her church, she goes to homeless shelters and nursing homes to make sure people have the clothing they need. Just last year, the City of Austin honored her for exemplary service to the community.

"I know one day I'll get really old and someone will help me. It always comes back," Bobbie says. "I don't want anyone to pay me for anything I do because the Lord is going to bless me in the end."

After so many years, Bobbie's home is starting to feel the grip of time. The outlets all shoot out sparks, the lead paint needs to be abated, and the roof and flooring need significant repairs. Bobbie also now needs ADA modifications to help ensure her safety - congestive heart failure has brought on vertigo, and she often finds herself reeling and needing to grab something for stability. She knows the house needs critical repairs and has tried to keep up by fixing something once a year, but the cost is too high for her to make the repairs in order to keep her and her grandchildren safe.

"If I had a million dollars, I wouldn't move. This is my homestead, and all my family and friends are close!" Being close isn't just a sentimental value either - ever since a drunk driver left her for dead in a hit and run outside her home in 1998, Bobby hasn't been able to drive. Proximity is important for her to be able to get around.

When people like Bobbie Jones have to decide between buying groceries and making critical repairs to keep their family safe, Austin falters. The wellbeing of our residents is imperative to keeping our city stable and thriving. This is why Austin Habitat's lesser-known Home Repair Program is just as important as our Affordable Homeownership Program.  We don’t always have to put a new roof over our client’s heads, sometimes giving their old ones new strength makes all the difference. 

 

 

If you'd like to help improve the lives of deserving homeowners like Bobby Jones, choose Habitat’s Home Repair Program as your donation designation.