This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.
Help may be just around the corner if you are a low-income Montgomery County, Maryland, homeowner with a repair list as long as a nine-year-old’s Christmas wish list.
Rebuilding Together Montgomery County provides critical home repairs and accessibility modifications to the county’s most vulnerable homeowners.
“Our goal is to preserve the affordable housing in Montgomery County and keep people in their homes,” Maury Peterson, executive director of Rebuilding Together Montgomery County, told WTOP.
She said the organization focuses on senior citizens, veterans, people with disabilities and members of marginalized communities.
“Their home is their biggest asset and we don’t want them to have to move and then they can’t afford to go anyplace else,” Peterson said.
Rebuilding Together provides support to people who have decades of deferred maintenance or, Peterson said, those who may have a neighbor called to report them for a code violation, which could result in fines they can’t afford to pay.
These clients run the gamut — people with a hole in their roof leaking into their home, causing mold and mildew issues, or even plumbing issues like broken toilets and sinks.
Peterson said Rebuilding Together sees seniors who want to “age in place” as well. The group helps these seniors by making repairs or modifications that help them feel safe in their homes. Modifications include tub cuts to ensure safety when cleaning up, tub or shower replacements, installing grab bars around the house and widening doorways.
Peterson said all services are free of charge, but residents have to go through an application process to make sure they qualify for the program. They must prove that they own the home that they are in and earn 50% or less of the median household income in the county. The families they service on average earn only $22,000 per year.
“So, the good news is they own the home. The hard news is that they have no disposable income to keep up with the maintenance,” Peterson said.
This year, Rebuilding Together is trying to serve 180 families. Since the program started in 1990, Peterson said they have helped over 3,000 families and galvanized 50,000 volunteers.
To learn more information or to fill out an application, please visit Rebuilding Together Montgomery County’s website. You can also call 301-947-9400 for application information or to have an application mailed to you.