Rodney McCallie, Construction Rehabilitation Project Manager with the City of Huntsville Community Development Office, knows that home improvement projects require more than raw materials and construction know-how.
For McCallie and her team of volunteers, construction rehabilitation projects for low-income seniors in Huntsville require the kind of dedication to community service that comes from the heart.
This desire to help senior homeowners restore their homes to livable and sustainable conditions is in full effect as Community Development celebrates National Community Development Week, April 11-15.
This year’s theme, “Building Equitable Communities,” comes from the National Community Development Association, but McCallie and his team believe that building equitable communities is a part of their year-round mission.
City rehabilitation projects are supported by federal funding to cover the cost of materials. The work is done by community volunteers.
“We really needed it.”
Ellis Fuller, 80, and his wife, Georgia Fuller, 73, have been selected as recipients of this week’s home rehabilitation project. McCallie and his team of volunteers will work every day this week to replace rotting wood in the Fuller house on Johnna Circle in northwest Huntsville, then wrap the new wood in vinyl siding. The City also plans to replace the roof in May.
The Fullers agree that being one of the beneficiaries of the city’s home rehabilitation program makes them feel like valued citizens.
“It feels good… very good [to see the repairs done]”, Ellis said. “We really needed it.”
The Fullers, who retired from Alabama A&M University and Huntsville Surgical Center, respectively, were selected from more than 100 applicants for the home rehabilitation aide program. McCallie says there are usually over 250 projects at any given time to choose from. To qualify for this assistance, applicants must be at least 62 years of age, considered low-income and own their home.
Many applicants are referred to the program by community development code officers investigating unsafe conditions. The local Habitat for Humanity chapter also refers applicants to the city for consideration. Most projects involve repairing the roof or replacing the vinyl siding.
Even if an application is not immediately selected for the program, there are still options to explore.
“Our office doesn’t dictate which projects are selected,” McCallie said. “Volunteer groups that commit to drug rehab can choose, depending on the expertise and abilities of that group. If an application is not accepted within a year, I will try to find [construction] experts from my contacts.
If funds remain at the end of the fiscal year in June, the City hires professional contractors to complete the projects.
“The need is still there,” McCallie said. “We always have more projects.”
A “magical” result
The benefits of these rehabilitation projects are both tangible and sincere. These real estate improvements help improve the quality of life for seniors in the area while increasing property values and increasing safety. Most importantly, owners know they are valued and respected by their community, and volunteers can see the impacts of their compassionate contributions on the well-being of others.
Many of the volunteers who contribute to the City’s mission are faith-based groups that include youth volunteers. This is just one of the ways Huntsville is developing the next generation of caring volunteers dedicated to building communities infused with potential and opportunity for all of its residents.
“When I see these young people interacting with the seniors and working for them, the result is almost magical,” said McCallie.
National Community Development Week is just one occasion in a year full of rehabilitation projects. If you or your group are interested in other opportunities to help, visit our website.