Non-profit helping those in need upgrade homes

Habitat for Humanity is known for building homes for those in need but with the rising cost of land in Austin they are focusing on helping with emergency home repairs.

The organization is helping people like Miss Bobbie January. Her home has been in her family for many years and the house is more than just a place to live.

"When I first moved here I was still in high school so I've been here a long time," Miss Bobbie says. "This is home and it feels like home and there's a whole lot of love and it means a lot."

In the last 50 years, Miss Bobbie raised three children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren in her house.

"This is a landmark for my family and I always tell them that if something was to happen they are more than welcome to come back because my kids was brought up here," Miss Bobbie says.

Three generations of Miss Bobbie's family have lived in the home and it's showing. The carpet was pulling up and becoming a hazard, the paint inside was lead based and the shower was no longer accessible to Miss Bobbie. The electric system was also outdated.

With congenital heart failure and high blood pressure, Miss Bobbie found the help she needed through Habitat for Humanity's Home Repair Program.

In the Austin area, most of Habitat's clients are elderly and need help with critical upgrades.

John Poynor, Habitat for Humanity Project Manager, says, " Perhaps someone has joint issues or something that doesn't allow them to step into a basic tub that most of us have and we can make it so they have a walk-in shower."

Poynor says Habitat for Humanity identifies everything that needs to be fixed and reaches out to other groups to get the work done.

They do things like give rooms wheelchair access, fix roofs and install central air. The upgrades and fixes can add up to about $10,000 to $15,000 per home.

Last year, Habitat helped some 65 families in Austin. But for Poynor it's more than just about giving people a safe, liveable home.

"I feel like i have the privilege of working with these people and they are inviting us into their lives so we get to tailor response specific to their needs and help them age in place and stay where their resources and their emotional ecosystem is," Poynor says.

It's something that couldn't make Miss Bobbie any happier. She says never had central air before Habitat helped and adds that she would never dream of moving because she is close to her church and doesn't drive.

"It's a blessing that we have them. My kids can get to me in a matter of minutes if something is wrong," Miss Bobbie says. "It makes me very, very happy because as a senior and with my disabilities it definitely makes you feel good that someone still cares."

If you would like to apply for the program or if you like to donate to Habitat for Humanity you can log onto to their website here.

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