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Programs help the needy repair their homes

Grant money allows Senior Center and city to aid those who need it

Posted: November 18, 2009 10:20 p.m.
Updated: November 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
When the arthritis in his knees made it too difficult to climb the stairs leading into his mobile home, E.W. “Wally” Waldeck knew he needed to build a wheelchair ramp.

Problem was, he couldn’t afford to spend the $2,000 it would take to get one installed.

So Waldeck, 77, contacted the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, which put in the ramp for free.

“I haven’t paid one penny for the ramp,” Waldeck said. “There’s no way I could have paid for it on my own.”

For residents like Waldeck, who can’t afford to fix problems with their home — a broken toilet, crumbling pipes, a leaky roof — the city of Santa Clarita and local senior center each offer programs to help pay for necessary repairs.

The Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center extends its home-repair services mostly to single mothers and elderly residents, said Executive Director Brad Berens.

The Senior Center is trying to get more people in east Newhall and unincorporated areas to apply for the program since it receives funding from both the city and county, he said.

The center receives between five and eight applications a week, Berens said, and repairs about 160 homes a year. Thanks to an additional $100,000 in funding from the county, the center will be able to repair between 180 and 190 homes this year.

Generally, applicants can receive up to $2,000 for home repairs through the senior center’s program, but the program is flexible and can provide more money to residents in more extreme or hazardous situations, Berens said.

The senior center works closely with the city to help people in dire straits who need extensive repairs, he said.

Meanwhile, the city of Santa Clarita has repaired more and more homes almost every year since it started its own program in 2003.

The number dropped off suddenly last year as the recession hit full stride.

The program, which offers grants of up to $5,000 for serious repairs, will probably rebound this year, said housing program administrator Erin Lay.

In 2003, the city worked on eight houses. In 2007, the city helped repair 54 homes, Lay said. The number of home repairs dropped for the first time in 2008 to 32.

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