Local charity helps disadvantaged home owners with needed repairs and upgrades
January 14, 2013Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada celebrates 20 years this spring. The local affiliate of a national organization (that has a presence is every state) recently made repairs on eight homes belonging to veterans or their dependents, including one in Henderson, as part of a commemorative project.
We spoke with Cynthia Baca, RTSNV executive director, about the scope of her organization's work and the direction she sees it heading.
THP: How has the recession affected the need for your services?
Baca: Unfortunately there is a greater demand for our services. Three years ago we did not have a wait list. This year we do, about 60 people waiting for us to acquire funds appropriate to their type of project.
We have even had people who had companies, construction, plumbing and so forth, who had done pro bono work for us in the past, now come to us and ask for our assistance, because they can no longer afford their own maintenance.
THP: Why don't you work on more houses in Henderson?
Baca: We would love to do more houses in Henderson. But we have found Henderson does a very good job of taking care of its seniors. But every time we do one of these projects and there's news coverage, we always get calls. So there is demand.
THP: Does that imply other Clark County municipalities are deficient in taking care of seniors?
Baca: Well, Clark County doesn't have an emergency home repair program. We do partner with the Cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas for construction funds to do these projects and then we match those with private funds so that we can leverage the funding we have. And then we leverage that further with volunteers.
THP: Who qualifies for your services?
Baca: Low to middle income homeowners, seniors, disabled, multi-generational families who fall within the income guidelines. Veterans and currently active military.
THP: How many buildings do you work on each year?
Baca: On National Re- Building Day, which takes place on the last Saturday in April, we had 22 homes with about 60 volunteer groups. However we do have a year round program where we do emergency home repairs using licensed contractors who we pay to come in and do roof repairs, plumbing, heating and air conditioner repairs. That is on-going. Last year we assisted 526 homeowners.
THP: How do you find homeowners in need?
Baca: About 95 percent of our clients are referrals from social service agencies or other non-profits. We take their application over the phone and we make a home visit to assess their need.
THP: How much do these repairs (which on this day includes a fresh coat of canary yellow paint over the exterior of the home) mean to homeowners, on an emotional level?
Baca: A lot, very often. Because most of our clients homes suffer from different maintenance issues. Mostly because they are physically unable to make minor repairs anymore or their resources have shrunk so that it's a choice between purchasing food, medicine or paying somebody to come fix their home.
Visit RTSNV.org or call 259.4900 for more information about Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada.