By Frances Akridge
City Council Representative District 2
I call our city’s Office of Community Development the office of Tough Love and Compassion: TL&C. The officers of Community Development are infamous for enforcing the city code for minimum building standards. These are some the violations to city code for minimum standards: peeling paint, rotting trim, junk and litter, and now in the summer season, grass that is too high, creating a hiding place for vermin.
BUT did you know that Community Development is also the office that brings relief to homeowners who are senior citizens or people who are disabled who are struggling to maintain their homes? The professional team of Rob Peavey and Rodney McCulley lead the compassionate side of the office as team leads. The money is there, thanks to the “largess” of the federal government by way of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). The missing element is a set of Helping Hands, and that can be you. No experience needed.
We need more volunteers to help with simple home maintenance projects in a neighborhood near you or perhaps your own neighborhood. My request of you, dear reader, is that you be willing to recruit someone or choose to lend a hand to stabilize a house in disrepair. It’s as simple as making a phone call to 256-427-5400. I implore you to get know your own neighbors well enough to see the senior citizen or disabled homeowner in your neighborhood who could use some help.
I recommend starting with getting to know the neighbor well enough to assist with simple chores on the outside of the house, such as cutting grass or pulling vines off the side of the house. And when you see that there is more to be done such as painting, replacing fascia or repairing a roof that you introduce them to the idea of accepting help from the compassion team at our Community Development office and perhaps be willing to return with the team. I suggest asking the homeowner to accept the job on fix-up day to either pitch in or just keep the workers hydrated!
The tax revenue from the Federal Government is returned to the Office of Community Development to be used to stabilize houses in any neighborhood owned by the person who is 65 years old or disabled at any age and has income less than or equal to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The AMI for a household in Huntsville is:
• $51,950 for a single person
• $59,350 for a household of 2 people
• $66,650 for a household of 3 people
You need not ask a person to tell you what their income is; you can simply let them know that these figures will be the threshold for qualifying for the repairs to be made by the tax revenue all of us contribute to the federal government. Call the TL&C team at Huntsville City Office of Community Development: 256-427-5400.