Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity was first approached by the adult children of a homeowner expressing concerns for their 83-year-old mother who lives alone in the house where she has lived her entire life. What makes this particular Helping Hands home repair request unique is that the homeowner lives on a century farm that has been in the same family for 150 years; while many small century farms are disappearing, the homeowner’s daughter told IVHFH, “… [I]t is my mom’s dream to keep the farm and the rich tradition alive that growing up on a family farm instills in family members that are impacted by family farming.”
Realizing this dream on their own comes with several barriers: the old home was not designed for aging-in-place and lacks any accessibility features, and utilizing a walker in an inaccessible home has become increasingly dangerous. Worse yet, the homeowner cannot afford the repairs as she lives solely on a fixed social security income. The family even considered the worst-case scenario—selling the family home and farm to afford housing at a care facility. Facing these impossible choices, the family decided to reach out to Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity and their Helping Hands home repair program.
IVHFH was determined to help the homeowner afford the repairs and modifications necessary to continue living safely at home. As staff considered the funding needed to cover the cost of this project, they turned to a long-term partner, Oaknoll Retirement Residence. Oaknoll staff enthusiastically agreed to support IVHFH’s Helping Hands program because of its emphasis on aging-in-place work. Oaknoll’s Chief Executive Officer, Steve Roe says, “Oaknoll has supported Habitat for Humanity for many years. Helping our residents create home is what we do at Oaknoll. It has been important for us to share our resources in a way that supports others in our community to have quality, affordable housing—whether that be supporting a new Habitat build, or this year partnering with the Helping Hands project that will allow the owner to live more safely in her home.”
With funding in place, IVHFH quickly got to work aiming to first address the homeowner’s most critical safety and accessibility needs.
Problem (Inaccessible Bathroom): The existing shower in the home was a combination tub and shower with a sliding glass door. This made stepping into and out of the shower the most dangerous part of the homeowner’s day. In addition to the accessibility concerns in the shower, the sink and faucet were badly corroded and would likely fail soon.
Helping Hands Solution: IVHFH worked with Bea Day Plumbers to replace the tub and shower with a low-clearance unit and re-level the bathroom floor. Grab bars were then installed, and the sink and faucet were replaced. IVHFH staff finished the bathroom remodel by installing new drywall and replacing the bathroom vent.
Problem (Home Entrance): No entrance to the home could be accessed without encountering steps, making the simple act of entering and exiting a perilous task. The entrance most frequently used by the homeowner opened onto a poured concrete patio space with two steps down to a sidewalk leading to the driveway. Adding to safety concerns, there were no handrails on the patio or leading down the steps.
Helping Hands Solution: IVHFH constructed an accessibility ramp equipped with handrails leading from the sidewalk onto the concrete patio.
Problem (Roof Damage): The roof sustained damage from a storm earlier in the year. Upon inspection, IVHFH found that part of the roof was covered with asphalt shingles several of which were missing, and others were damaged.
Helping Hands Solution: IVHFH staff replaced the missing and damaged shingles to prevent further damage to the interior of the home.
With the repairs complete, IVHFH staff recently followed up with one of the homeowner’s daughters who told IVHFH, “[My mom] ... loves it. She tells everyone that comes over, ‘You gotta see my new bathroom.’ And now she's zipping up and down that ramp like no other.” She agreed the repairs were not only critical for her mom’s safety and ability to stay on the farm that means so much to their entire family, but the repairs have eased the stress and lifted the concerns she and her sister had for their mother. She explained, “Our intent is to keep her here; this is where she wants to die, and I will do everything possible to make that happen.” The family is now one big step closer to honoring their mother’s wishes and giving her many more safe and happy years living on a farm that holds a lifetime of memories.
Our Mission: Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.
A world where everyone has
a decent place to live.
- Demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.
- Focus on shelter.
- Advocate for affordable housing.
- Promote dignity and hope.
- Support sustainable and transformative development.
We welcome all who believe that everyone needs a decent, affordable place to live. Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliated organizations do not proselytize.
Habitat will not offer assistance on the expressed or implied condition that people must either adhere to or convert to a particular faith, or listen and respond to messaging designed to induce conversion to a particular faith.