With the only licensed, bonded and insured nonprofit home repair program in Spokane County serving low-income households, SNAP routinely faces an avalanche of demand from residents each year who are trying their best to maintain safe and secure homes.
While entities like the City of Spokane, Aging and Long-Term Care of Eastern Washington, and Spokane County provide consistent program support, that funding comes with limitations. Add in an aging housing inventory and it’s no wonder the gap between local home repair needs and available resources remains considerable.
That’s why there is cause for celebration when SNAP receives news of a contribution to its home repair efforts from the private sector. Near the end of 2016, U.S. Bank Foundation stepped up with a generous $10,000 grant that will have a significant impact, according to SNAP’s Director of Housing Services Chris Davis.
“This grant will allow us to stretch our current funding and address much needed repairs that somehow slip between the cracks” said Davis. “When we can leverage our current funding with grants like these we make an even bigger impact in our community. We are very grateful to U.S. Bank for seeing the importance of this work.”
SNAP prioritizes requests for no heat, no water and no sewer because any of these situations can make a home unlivable. In the winter months, the calls for help come in at an increased rate. While restoring heat, water and sewer service takes precedence, there is still plenty of need for accessibility modifications and repairs to address other health and safety issues.
In her work as a SNAP housing specialist, Tonya Mitchell works with residents who reach the ceiling on available funding.
“Funding guidelines pose lifetime limits on how much we can spend on a single property,” Mitchell explained, “Many times a household meets this limit in just one essential repair. We often have to turn away very low-income homeowners who have no other resources to perform required maintenance on their home because they have exceeded this limit. I foresee this money from U.S. Bank helping low-income seniors and families who have exhausted all other options, therefore helping these at-risk clients remain housed.”
According to Kimbra Wellock, Community Development manager for U.S. Bank in Washington and Idaho, the support of SNAP aligns with the bank’s community investment platform of “Work, Home and Play.”
“By focusing on Work, Home and Play, U.S. Bank’s philanthropic and volunteer efforts can have a greater impact on the building blocks of thriving communities, which include stable employment opportunities, a home to call one’s own, and a community connected through culture, recreation and play,” Wellock said.
Wellock added that through its Home giving pillar, the U.S. Bank Foundation “provides financial support to assist people in developing stability in their lives through access to safe, sustainable and accessible homes.”
“SNAP’s home repair program does just this,” Wellock said. “It helps low-income homeowners make health and safety-related repairs or accessibility modifications, such as wheelchair ramps and handrails, playing an important role in keeping people in the homes they’ve worked so hard for.”
The U.S. Bank gift could help in a wide variety of ways, said Ron Gaunt, Technical Services coordinator with the SNAP Housing Improvements Department. The list of possibilities includes accessibility modifications, insurance deductibles, wheelchair ramps, special tools that might be needed and repairs for clients barely exceeding income limits who have just suffered a traumatic loss like the death of a spouse.
“Children and families are better positioned to thrive and succeed in a home that is safe and healthy,” said Linda Elkin, U.S. Bank region president for Eastern Washington and North Idaho who calls Spokane home. “We are proud to support SNAP and the many vital services they provide to our community.”