A Sense of Relief
Around one third of homeowners who earn less than $32,000 a year, nearly 4.8 million people, spent $0 on home maintenance or home improvement, according to a 2022 analysis of federal census data by the Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
Home maintenance and repairs are expensive and they disproportionately affect people with fewer financial resources. This is worse for Black women who have less wealth on average than their white or male counterparts. If they do make repairs, female homeowners face more debt.
On top of this, repairs that go unfixed, such as leaky roofs, can result in code violations and possibly court cases, which can lead to foreclosures.
Joyce, a homeowner in Milwaukee since 1998, faced these difficulties when her roof started leaking. Shingles were falling off her roof and water was leaking in. She also had a rusted bathtub, electrical problems, windows that let cold air in, a worn out front gate, and more.
Prior to finding Habitat, Joyce paid nearly $1,000 for an electrical repair that resulted in no resolution.
Fortunately, a few years ago, Joyce found Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity’s Critical Home Repair Program. Her son became involved in construction work for Habitat and she followed Jimmy Carter’s involvement in the organization. She decided to apply for an affordable loan.
Initially, Joyce wanted to get her electrical problems addressed, but it was clear that her roof was a more pressing issue. So after learning more about the program and applying for a loan, Joyce had her roof fixed at an affordable price through the Milwaukee Habitat Critical Home Repair Program.
“It went great. There was a sense of relief,” Joyce said.
After such success with her roof repair, Joyce came back to Habitat a few years later in hopes the other issues in her home could be fixed. Once again, Milwaukee Habitat is working to help Joyce feel safe in her home. Joyce is now getting a bathtub replacement, a front gate replacement, a window replacement, and electrical work done at an affordable price.
“It’ll make me feel a whole lot better. It will bring up the value of my home,” Joyce said.
Home disrepair can often force people to leave their homes or live in unsafe conditions because they are unable to afford repairs.
“[If it weren’t for Habitat], I would have to let a lot of [the repairs] go and gradually have some done a little bit at a time,” Joyce said. “I know I couldn’t afford repairs like windows on my income.”
With help from Milwaukee Habitat’s Critical Home Repair Program, Joyce is once again getting the repairs she needs at an affordable price so that she can live safely and comfortably in her home.
“I’ve never had any problems [with Habitat],” Joyce said. “I have a great experience every time I come here.”