Home repair program in Yarmouth County aims to patch gaps in getting help
Nicole Caux points to the place on her back deck where someone stepped through some of the boards.
"It was really rotten, so it needed to be repaired and replaced."
Like a lot of homeowners, the Yarmouth, N.S., resident had some jobs she needed done around the house. But it's not always easy to find someone to take on small repair work and even when you do, it comes at a cost.
A program in Yarmouth County is trying to address that issue and a few others.
Late last year, the Tri-County Women's Centre, using a $50,000 grant from the Community Services Department, launched the Vibrant Homes program. The pilot project allows homeowners to get small repair and maintenance jobs done, with the centre covering the labour costs and the homeowner paying for materials.
Lisanne Turner, executive director of the women's centre, said the idea comes from a housing needs assessment the centre and other partners conducted in late 2017. The results showed the condition of people's homes was a major issue dictating whether they felt safe and secure where they lived.
"People felt that they would be able to stay in their homes longer if they had support with basic repair and maintenance," said Turner.
The centre partnered with local carpenter Terry Doucette. So far there have been 30 requests for work and Doucette has replaced windows, repaired or replaced decks and wheelchair ramps, installed handrails and repaired a bathroom. Requests that are simply too big get referred to other agencies to try to find help.
"If you own a home, there's always something going wrong or something needs fixing," said Doucette. "So people are happy to have someone come fix some of the problems."
Another aspect of the program is its partnership with SHYFT Youth Services, which will see young people get work experience by going to jobs with Doucette.
Doucette said the program means some people are getting work done on their homes they wouldn't otherwise be able to do, which means small problems can be fixed before turning into big ones and money saved can be used for other needs.
"Everybody has a budget, everybody has limits to what they can spend," he said. "It's about helping people."
People are there to help
Caux and her family were thankful for the help. It would have taken much longer to complete the work if they'd had to shoulder all the costs themselves, she said, and the money she saved will go towards her kids' taekwondo classes and possibly some other repair work.
The program runs until the end of June and Turner said they're already looking at ways to make it a more permanent service. Caux said she knows many people in the community could benefit.
"Their houses are deteriorating and they can't afford to really fix them," she said. "It's nice to have a program like this where you know there's somebody out there to help you."