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Supervisors unite to provide free home repairs for senior citizens

December 15, 2010 - It might not be ABC's hit show Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, but elderly residents in Oxford, Addison, Orion Twp. and Oakland Twp. have the opportunity to receive their own home makeover.

Township supervisors Bill Dunn of Oxford, Bruce Pearson of Addison, Matt Gibb of Orion and Joan Foglar of Oakland came together to form the Northeast Oakland chapter of Christmas in Action (CIA), a volunteer organization providing free home repairs to elderly citizens who cannot afford them.

"I am pretty excited because we are going to be able to help them," said Pearson.

Based in Waterford, Christmas in Action of Oakland County has been providing free home repairs for low-income senior homeowners since 1996.

They joined a national organization that started in a Baptist Sunday School class in Midland Texas in 1973 when Bobby and Shirley Trimble decided to do something about the growing number of their elderly neighbors who needed help maintaining their homes.

The group's mission statement reads "volunteers provide the free home repairs that enable low-income and handicapped seniors to safely remain in their homes."

To accomplish this, CIA relies on local businesses, community groups, churches and individuals to provide financial, material and volunteer support each year.

"The harsh reality is that almost 20 percent of all elderly Americans are considered shelter poor, which means that seniors cannot afford basic necessities, let alone maintance, after paying housing costs," Pearson said.

In order to qualify for the program, the senior must be living in a house that is insured and their taxes have to be current. They have to be the owner of a single family home, with an individual income of less than $20,000 and a combined income of less than $25,000.

According to Pearson, their group will start on the last Saturday in April and do four homes, one in each township, and do a one day makeover.

"We will bring in several hundred people so they can do this all at once," Pearson said. "Whatever they need in the house, whether it's a new roof, new kitchen, handicap ramp, we come in a do a total makeover in one day."

Before volunteers come out to work on a home, two site coordinators will meet with the selected seniors to find out what work needs to be done and purchase the necessary equipment.

Volunteers will then show up and work alongside professional contractors from CIA to complete the project.

In order to fund CIA, Pearson will be using money from Addison's Community Development Block Grant.

CIA is nothing new for the community of Addison Pearson said. He noted that many of the residents already go to Waterford, Holly, Fenton and Pontiac and volunteer their services.

"Now that they see how successful this is, they want to bring it out here," Pearson said.

Seniors in Addison and Oxford can pick up applications at township offices, located at 1140 Rochester Rd. in Addison Twp. and 300 Dunlap Rd. in Oxford, and at local churches.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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