Many of Hartford's single-family homes were built before World War II and are in need of upgrade and repair. In many cases, the owners have also gotten on in years, and find it difficult to get the work done.
Luckily, there's a nonprofit group they can call.
Rebuilding Together offers free home repair for elderly or disabled low-income homeowners who can't afford private contractors. Begun as Christmas in April more than a decade ago, Rebuilding Together uses about 1,000 volunteers each year to repair about 65 houses in the city.
The group's mission differs from Habitat for Humanity in that Habitat builds new houses and Rebuilding fixes existing homes.
Hartford's Rebuilding Together agency is one of 240 affiliates around the country. The national organization has partnered with Home Depot, Lowe's and other national suppliers to get building materials to the job, and has just begun a new program in conjunction with Sears to aid disabled veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan.
Much of the work is done on National Rebuilding Day, the last Saturday in April. The challenge is finding volunteers - amateur or professional - who know what they are doing. If the agency cannot find a skilled volunteer for emergency repairs, which take place throughout the year, they will pay someone.
It's hard to understate the value of what Rebuilding Together does for the city. Basic repairs - they don't do basement rec rooms or other non-essentials - can keep someone in a familiar setting, help stabilize the neighborhood and be a force for economic development.
Greg Secord, who heads the Hartford group, is trying to expand the local effort, and is looking for plumbers, electricians, carpenters and roofers.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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