Cherokee County has been a participant in the Home Investment Partnership program for nearly 10 years.
The program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helps low-income seniors 62 and older make home improvements and bring their dwellings into compliance with local codes.
Marianne Pieper, the county’s community development block grant coordinator, said the program allows the county to make repairs such as installation of new water lines, roofing, column supports, wheelchair ramps and handicap-accessible shower stalls and toilets as well as painting and replacement of windows and trim.
Each year, the county receives about $150,000, which is enough to perform work on between five and eight houses, Ms. Pieper said.
Last year, the county worked on six houses and they are on target to work on eight this year. So far, the county has worked on 37 homes through the program.
Ms. Pieper said the program’s awareness has improved in the past couple of years, but there’s still many people who are unfamiliar with its existence.
Also, she added, there are people who have a “fear that the government doesn’t do anything nice for me.”
Ms. Pieper said the county utilizes its four senior center locations, the Volunteer Aging Council, print information on county water bills and other local organizations to publicize the program.
County Commissioner Jim Hubbard said many seniors do have a mistrust of the government as the generation the program targets came of age during the Great Depression and have always been “self-sufficient.”
“That generation just doesn’t ask for help,” he said.
Both Hubbard and Ms. Pieper said the program can help take care of many expenses seniors probably could not afford or perform themselves because of health issues.
“It will give them some peace of mind,” Ms. Pieper said, adding the repairs may keep some home values from dropping.
The government was the least likely place Bob and Joyce Adams of Canton would have looked to get the necessary work done on their home.
The county last year spent about $37,000 on repairs, including vinyl siding, windows, doors, central heat and air, deck repairs, electrical repairs, handicap modifications, vinyl floor, carpet, insulation, hard wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
The Adamses learned about the program through the local AARP. They applied for the program and were approved several months later.
Mrs. Adams said her husband’s health prevented him from doing the work needed on the home, so the program was a “big relief off my mind.”
“For us, it was a sense of relief because we saw what we had was falling apart,” she said, adding they raised their four children in the home.
Mrs. Adams said indeed many senior citizens are skeptical about any government program that claims to benefit them, adding they feel “apprehensive” because they believe certain strings may be attached to offers.
She said everyone with the county, including those who did the work on her home, were kind and treated her and her husband with respect.
She also said she hopes to see more seniors like her take advantage of the program.
“It’s such a wonderful program,” she said.