Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Making Old Homes Livable SHIP Program Does Repairs for the Poor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Making Old Homes Livable SHIP Program Does Repairs for the Poor

Article excerpt

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- Evelyn King seldom took hot baths. Not

because she didn't enjoy a warm soak, but because her water

heater hadn't worked in a long, long time.

"In the wintertime, I had to heat the water on my stove for

baths," said the Middleburg Avenue widow Friday, as she watched

an old Bonanza rerun on a small black-and-white TV in her living

room.

And when it rained, water poured through a rotten roof into one

of three tiny bedrooms in the cinderblock house where King has

lived for 26 years.

Though in need of numerous repairs, she simply couldn't afford

them on a fixed Social Security income of $5,640 a year.

But she can take hot baths now anytime she desires and her home

no longer leaks. Her ship has come in.

King heard friends at church talking about the State Housing

Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program and how it had helped

many poor folks like her renovate their homes.

She applied last year, mainly to get her roof repaired, and was

approved. But construction workers did much more than put a new

roof on her house.

They also repaired plumbing leaks, minor electrical problems

and installed a new kitchen floor, kitchen cabinets, a new

refrigerator and a new water heater.

"It's so nice," King said, as three construction workers put

finishing touches on the repair work Friday. "I'm very happy."

Tom Price, coordinator of the Clay County SHIP program, said

satisfied customers like King make his job gratifying.

"If you can help people who can't help themselves, it's the

greatest feeling in the world," Price said after visiting King's

home Friday morning to monitor construction progress.

King was one of 51 homeowners last year (up from 22 the

previous year) who were approved for SHIP assistance through the

Housing Finance Authority of Clay County. Price said 60 to 75

applicants are anticipated in the coming fiscal year beginning

Oct. 1.

Applications are received only during October. The agency

advertises in newspapers, but most applicants say they heard

about it "word of mouth," Price said.

Most applicants are 62 or older and have an average household

income of $21,000, Price said, adding that the average

rehabilitation cost is $7,500.

Colleen Masters, a kitchen employee at Moosehaven in Orange

Park, had been scheduled to receive $15,000 in repairs to her

home on Main Street in Middleburg.

Her house needed major repairs to the floor, roof, walls,

plumbing, electrical, "just about the whole nine yards," Masters

said.

But her eligibility was revoked when she let her daughter and

grandchild move in with her in July without notifying SHIP that

the household income had changed. Still, she had only good

things to say about the program. …

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