Thanks to Rochester Safe and Efficient Homes Initiative, Rochester Homeowner can make needed repairs

Nate Sheppard from ABC and Al Rayburn, Technical Services Manager at NeighborWorks Rochester, with homeowner, Joyce Vereecke.

The following was written by guest-blogger, Elizabeth McDade, Program Coordinator for the Rochester Safe and Efficient Homes Initiative (RSEHI)

In December 2014, Joyce Vereecke was served with divorce papers and asked to vacate her home with her two daughters. It was just before Christmas and the younger daughter was a senior in high school. Joyce, her daughters, and two dogs moved into a hotel room where they lived for over two months while Joyce searched for a new home. After deciding to buy a house and moving into it, it was discovered that the person who sold it to her did not have the right to do so. Once again, they had to move.

The family moved into a home on Dickinson Street in Rochester two years ago. The house was nice but needed some repairs and, as Joyce says, she was “not handy.” There was also the question of finding time to do home repairs—in addition to working part time and taking care of her children, Joyce also helped care for her mother who was in assisted living and suffering from dementia.

From the day they moved in, Joyce has slept downstairs in the living room because “one window fell right into the house when the wind blew” and the other window “couldn’t fully close or be locked.” Joyce slept on the couch because “If someone came in the house through one of those windows, I wouldn’t have heard them upstairs in my room…and I have two daughters!”

Joyce worked with NeighborWorks Rochester in Spring 2017 because her sewer line was backed up and needed repair. “We couldn’t flush the toilet or take a shower. You can’t show up at work if you don’t take a shower.” NeighborWorks brought this project to the RSEHI table because they couldn’t do weatherization work without getting the sewer line replaced, but their funding did not cover that scope of work. RSEHI approved a new sewer line (and sidewalk replacement) at $3,650.00. NeighborWorks was able to provide $7,365.99 worth of insulation and health and safety interventions for a total of $10,995.99.

This Fall, Joyce qualified for the ABC Weatherization program. ABC suggested that Joyce apply for the City of Rochester Window’s Program. ABC installed a new furnace and various health and safety items worth $3,168.00. The City of Rochester provided windows valued at $1,316.00 and RSEHI provided $1,600.00 to install the windows for a total of $6,084.00 worth of work.

Through various programs with NeighborWorks Rochester, Action for a Better Community, City of Rochester Windows Program, and the Rochester Safe and Efficient Homes Initiative, Joyce and her family have received a new sewer line, insulation, a high efficiency furnace, air sealing, a new door, other health/safety and weatherization interventions, AND eight new windows that close and lock.

For the first time in two years Joyce is sleeping upstairs in her own bed.

Learn more about the RSEHI program

Learn more about NeighborWorks Rochester Energy Services

Building Upon the Past

till-fritzschingTill Fritzsching of Rochester, NY, found his new home on Craig’s List three years ago. Although the house was set for demolition by the City of Rochester, he saw the home and felt that it was a metaphor for his own life journey – as he puts it “the home had been through hell, and so had I.”
In 2013, Mr. Fritzsching had hit rock bottom. He was divorced, and no longer employed at the successful mid-west company he had once presided over. His home of the past few years had been a jail cell due to addiction. A physical injury had set him back as well and he ended up living in his mother’s home.
When he first saw the 1920’s era house on Northview Terrace, he knew it had potential, despite years of neglect and trees growing through the roof. The only tenants for years had been rodents. As the building was scheduled for demolition the very next day, the price was affordable. However, there was much work to be done to save it from the wrecking ball.
A neighbor referred him to NeighborWorks® Rochester, as the organization had assisted several other homeowners in the neighborhood. While he had put in a lot of his own sweat-equity, and had to learn to negotiate a labyrinth of homeowner-assistance programs, he still had a long way to go to rehab the home. NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to assist on several fronts.
NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to provide Mr. Fritzsching with resources for lead testing and encapsulation in the his home, garage, and basement, a new roof, gutters and eaves, exterior and interior paint, a new porch. “The house went from the worst on the block to one of the best,” Mr. Fritzsching stated. Also added to the home were new windows and a water heater.

In the past 5 years, NeighborWorks® Rochester has invested $4,784,000 in loans to help 279 homeowners purchase or rehab their home. Many of these loans also had a grant as part of the assistance, which allowed homeowners even more capacity to fix their house, without having to finance all of the expense. NeighborWorks® Rochester will work with customers who may be turned away by traditional lenders due to credit issues or not having enough equity in their home. The organization is a resource to homeowners who may face losing their home or living in disrepair or unhealthy or unsafe conditions.

“NeighborWorks® Rochester left a great taste in my mouth, and was my first choice once my credit was cleaned up. The contractors were great and I’m really satisfied,” Mr. Fritzsching added.
In a neighborhood hard-hit by the city’s decades of manufacturing job loss, his home now stands out as one of the nicest on the street.
Mr. Fritzsching added, “I’m not done yet. I just built myself a new back porch, and it really satisfies me to look at where this house was and where it is now. I consider not only the house but the project as a metaphor for my own life recovery in the sense that I made a commitment to restoring a once beautiful thing, much like my own life, to not necessarily what it was before but rather a recreation of a new vision of what it could be. I believe that the past should always be recognized and the foundation on what we can build, but we should never be limited by it for its own sake. That to me at least, gives me the freedom to not only build upon the past but create a new reality from it.”
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