The Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church chapter of Rebuilding Together (RTAFF) and over 30 volunteers from Wells Fargo made several repairs to the home of Falls Church resident Esther Casas Garcia’s home on Tuesday. The repairs included rerouting and cleaning out the gutters and building and painting a new porch on Garcia’s home, which she said she’s lived in for 40 years.
Wells Fargo sponsored the on-going project, part of RTAFF and National Center for Healthy Housing, and made it possible to purchase the materials needed to spruce up Garcia’s home. “I’m just overwhelmed. I think it’s very nice of the volunteers to do the work and of Wells Fargo to sponsor it. I think it’s wonderful,” Garcia said. “Rebuilding Together is a nice program.”
RTAFF is the local chapter of a nationwide non-profit, Rebuilding Together, which focuses on making critical repairs, like accessibility modifications and energy efficient upgrades to low-income homes and community centers at no cost to service recipients. Many of the repairs, like installing ventilation systems for kitchens with gas stoves or moisture-proofing a homes structure, are aimed at creating a healthier home for low-income homeowners.
Rebuilding Together does home repairs for homeowners who earn less than 80 percent of the median income for the area they live in, which is $47,00 for a single occupancy homes and $56,000 for double occupancy homes in this region. According to RTAFF executive director Patti Klein, 1,400 volunteers help RTAFF repair 60-70 homes a year.
Many of the repairs make the homes of low-income homeowners healthier, more livable environments by maintaining homes so they are less likely to have molding, dust mites or cockroaches. This is a particular concern for low-income seniors, many of whom are more susceptible to hazards like molding and more likely to have owned and lived in their homes for a longer period of time without performing regular maintenance on the house.
“Over 80 percent of older adults want to age in place. They don’t want to go anywhere and they shouldn’t have to,” Klein said. “So we make it possible for them to stay.”