Edgewood Veteran Receives “Hand Up” with Home Repairs from Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna

From Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna:

Otis Johnson, a Marine Corps veteran who did two tours of duty in Vietnam, has lived in his Edgewood home for the past fifteen years. It was Joyce, his wife of almost 36 years, who approached the Office on Aging to see what help was available to them after they began experiencing problems with their house.

The Office on Aging recommended the couple apply to Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna to see whether or not they qualified for its Repair Program. This program provides critical home repair and weatherization to low income homeowners and charges 15 percent of the total bill as part of its “a hand up, not a hand-out” philosophy shared by other Habitat programs.

During the qualification review process, Joyce, who suffered from cancer and chronic lung disease (COPD), was hospitalized as her health continued to deteriorate. Johnson would often stop in the Habitat Susquehanna office on his way to the hospital to check on the status of their application so that he could report any news to his wife. Sadly, ten days after their application for assistance was approved, Joyce passed away.

A home visit and assessment were done to determine what grants were available to fund the work. In the case of Johnson, he was eligible for a grant from the Home Depot Foundation which provides funding for critical repairs on the homes of veterans. Another source of funding – available to all qualified homeowners – was the Maryland Energy Administration grant. With these grants, Johnson received a new roof, front entry door, eight windows, washing machine, refrigerator, hot water heater, heat pump and attic insulation. Light bulbs were also replaced, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed.

In addition, as part of a national effort to improve 100 homes with veterans, Wells Fargo volunteers removed a tree and fence, and made landscaping improvements to the property.

“The process I went through wasn’t hard. I’d recommend this to anyone who qualifies for it,” said Johnson. “The workers, volunteers and entire Habitat staff were very good and professional through the process – I’d give them five stars! I’d tell my neighbors that if they need help, do it as soon as possible. What a blessing it was to get help from Habitat.”

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