published Monday, August 27th, 2012

Roof replacement funding offered to low-income residents in Chattanooga

Roya Evans, executive director of the Chattanooga Community Housing Development Organization, uses a ladder to poke her head into the attic space of a home while inspecting the roof Tuesday. Evans visited some homes in preparation for a  program that will reroof some homes in need.
Roya Evans, executive director of the Chattanooga Community Housing Development Organization, uses a ladder to poke her head into the attic space of a home while inspecting the roof Tuesday. Evans visited some homes in preparation for a program that will reroof some homes in need.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

AT A GLANCE

• To qualify: Applicants must meet income guidelines (up to $32,400 a year for a single person), must live in Chattanooga and must live in the home at least five years after the new roof is put on. If the home is sold before five years, a lien for the cost of the roof will be put on the house.

• To get an application: Call the Chattanooga Community Housing Development Organization at 423-668-9804.

Deborah Hanner has never missed a house payment in 16 years, but if the 59-year-old disabled mother of two doesn't get her roof fixed, she'll have to leave.

"I'd see stuff leaking through the light fixtures, and I kept seeing wet patches in the closet," she said. "I can't stay in here with all the water coming in."

Hanner is on a fixed income and can't afford a new roof. The $2,000 check from her insurance company for roof repairs necessitated by storm damage still sits in her files because no repairman would do the work for that amount.

But all hope isn't lost.

Hanner is one of nearly two dozen Chattanooga residents applying for roof replacement grants from the Chattanooga Community Housing Development Organization.

Executive Director Roya Evans is taking applications for the money until Thursday.

This is the first year the organization has offered the program, which was funded with $110,000 from Chattanooga's Neighborhood Services division. Evans said her plan is to spend about $8,000 to $10,000 on each roof. About 12 to 15 roofs will be selected depending on the cost.

And if the need is great enough, Evans will apply for funding in the next cycle and offer the program next year. That application deadline is in December, she said.

Evans said she is certain there's a need for assistance because of the number of storms that have hit the city.

"A lot of roofs have been damaged, and they haven't been fixed," she said. "People are having trouble with their insurance companies. Sometimes the companies just want to patch something. Those patches will not last long, especially on a roof that is old. So there is definitely a need."

Annette Thompson, 47, has six dependent children, including two with disabilities.

"I can't afford a new roof," Thompson said. "The roof leaks, and when your roof is over 20 years old, you can't get homeowners insurance."

Her East Chattanooga home was built in the 1930s and last had a new roof in the 1970s. She said the string of storms and tornadoes in the past two years has left her with water leaking into her living room.

All but three of the 20 roof replacement applicants are older than 50. And most of them live in houses built in the 1960s or earlier, said Evans.

Neighborhood Services Administrator Beverly Johnson said she noticed the need more than three years ago while going through applications for the World Changers program, where students volunteer to do home repairs as part of a Christian ministry.

At least a third of the people who applied requested help with their roofs, said Johnson. Concerned about the risk posed by having young people climbing on roofs, the city started contracting that work out to licensed roofing companies. She said the city started funding CCHDO to do the work this year because it was a nonprofit in the business of neighborhood revitalization through new construction or housing renovation.

Many of the applicants are on fixed incomes of $10,000 to $14,000 a year. They have paid off their mortgages but have nothing left for repairs, said Evans.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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