Spokane resident Nancy Simmons recently had a huge weight lifted off her shoulders, thanks to help from a unique program at SNAP.
The 73-year-old retired dental assistant suffered a series of devastating blows. Shortly after losing her husband, Nancy experienced a heart attack which resulted in open heart surgery and a long road to recovery.
While recuperating at cardio pulmonary rehab, Nancy worried about returning to her Peaceful Valley home which was in need of many health and safety repairs.
“I never could afford to complete the repairs,” Nancy explained. “I was trying to do it piecemeal, but something always came up.”
When one of Nancy’s physical therapists suggested calling SNAP’s Housing Improvements Department, she was hesitant.
“I was scared to call,” she said. “I have never asked for help and I thought I wouldn’t qualify.”
When Nancy decided to take a leap of faith and contact SNAP, she was linked to the Single Family Rehab (SFR) program which addresses in-home health, safety and energy efficiency issues by providing low-interest loans to low and moderate-income homeowners in the city of Spokane.
The SFR program targets homeowners who likely would otherwise not be able to afford repairs or obtain a conventional home improvement loan.
In 2015 and 2016, the SFR program helped rehabilitate 45 homes in the city of Spokane, completing measures such as replacement of roofs, windows, heating units and sewer pipes, as well as the installation of safety measures such as accessibility modifications.
The SFR program is made possible by support from the city of Spokane’s Community, Housing and Human Services Department.
“Since 1977, this program has helped thousands of Spokane homeowners maintain a safe, healthy and affordable home when traditional financing options are not an option,” says Paul Trautman, program manager for the Community, Housing and Human Services Department.
The SFR program turned out to be just the answer Nancy was looking for. After a brief intake and a short time on the wait list, Nancy welcomed SFR Coordinator Derek Ferraro to her home for an initial assessment.
“The home had years of water damage that created several problems for this client,” Ferraro explained. “The flooring in the kitchen was damaged to the point that it required removal and replacement of the sub-flooring to ensure no one fell through the floor. The metal kitchen cabinets and counter tops were rusted and failing. The client also required several accessibility modifications to allow her to remain in her home comfortably and safe.”
With all of the repairs needed in Nancy’s home, the next hurdle was trying to accomplish it all within the guidelines of the program. A SFR stipulation is that loans must fall between $10,000 and $30,000.
SFR Lending Specialist Danny Shea was also mindful of keeping Nancy’s payment at a monthly installment that would be financially comfortable for her.
“Our goal in this program is to increase the health and safety of a client’s home while safeguarding their financial security,” Shea explained.
Luckily, in 2017, the SFR program was able to secure some grant funding to apply to projects, decreasing the loan amount clients were responsible for while still addressing critical repairs.
“This SFR loan was combined with a $10,000 grant from the city of Spokane to address several issues,” Ferraro said. “All of the safety problems would not have been able to have been addressed without the ability to access grant funding and combine it with a loan. Whenever we have the ability to coordinate with other SNAP programs or funding, the impact is greatly increased.”
Nancy said connecting with SFR has made all the difference. “Without the grant, I wouldn’t have been able to have all of the work I needed done,” she said.
Nancy’s rehab project included removing a variety of failing features from the home and installing viable replacements. The list included rusted kitchen cabinets, rotting flooring and sub-flooring, worn through carpet, ceiling fans, deteriorating railings and inefficient windows and doors.
In addition, accessibility modifications were installed to make Nancy’s bathroom safer and easier to use. “I have bad knees and the handrails make things much easier,” Nancy said. Nancy’s quaint 544-square-foot home is now virtually unrecognizable from the dwelling it was before. “The Simmons project was a great example of how the Single Family Rehab program can have a huge impact for homeowners,” Ferraro added.
Since the repairs have been completed, Nancy says her stress levels have significantly decreased. She now devotes her spare time to volunteering at the rehab center where she once recuperated herself.
Nancy says her home, which was once a source of worry, now brings her great pride.
“The SFR program was the single best thing I have ever done for myself besides having my children,” she said.