Habitat repair program gave her home new life

By Joe Stumpe

PARK CITY — Karen Corbin hates to think what would have happened if she hadn’t heard about Habitat for Humanity’s home repair program.

“My home was bad — really bad.”

Her house, built in the 1940s, suffered from what she called “severe issues.”

“I will tell you that because so much of the siding was rotten and my windows leaked, and my front door leaked, I think I would have ended up with black mold, and I probably would have had a lot of trouble.”

Corbin has a degenerative disc disease and walks with a cane. She lives on a small disability check and had no way to pay for the needed work herself.

Habitat, best known for building new homes for people with the help of volunteers, started running a home rehabilitation program in 2020. Last year, the program helped about 30 homeowners such as Corbin.

It received applications from about ten times that many.

The program is designed to help people stay in their homes in a safe fashion. It replaces or repairs roofs, gutter and siding, exterior doors and windows, plumbing, electrical and HVAC units. Accessibility modifications and tree hazard removal are also offered.

“It’s anything causing damages to your home right now — your siding, paint, doors, windows, if your porch is falling down,” said Heather McCoy, Habitat’s home repair coordinator. “We want to make sure your home is accessible and that you’re safe, dry and warm.”

Interior repairs are also focused on “things causing damage right now, (like) electrical not up to code,” McCoy said.

The program doesn’t do large structural repairs or cosmetic work, and some applications are turned down because the homes are considered unsalvageable. Most repairs are capped at $25,000 and the average is about $15,000. 

Program participants who make less than 35 percent of the area median income (which is currently $20,860) pay a fee of $150. Those who make more than that pay for a portion of the repairs on a sliding scale. Zero interest loans, installment plans and grants are available. The homes must be owner-occupied and the applicant current on mortgage payments, property taxes and utilities.

As with Habitat’s new home program, participants are asked to contribute at least four hours of “sweat equity.” Because of her disability, Corbin satisfied that requirement by taking financial literacy classes.

Habitat hopes to grow the home repair program. Despite the obvious demand for it, Corbin said she knows of no similar programs. The South Central Kansas Economic Development District offers a home weatherization program for eligible families that covers things such as insulation and weatherstripping, she noted.

Corbin called herself “beyond blessed to have had (Habitat) help me.”

Workers replaced her siding and painted it the color of her choice. They replaced gutters and three window screens that were torn.  They replaced her front door and its frame, installed a deadbolt and motion detection lights. “I’ve lived in this house and never had dead bolts on the door,” she said.

It’s rained several times since the repairs were completed and Corbin has watched with satisfaction as the interior of her home remained completely dry.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “Every time I come home and see my house, it’s like having a new house.”

To learn more
Visit wichitahabitat.org or call
(316) 269-0755.

This article was republished here with the permission of: The Active Age