A Letter to the Editor: by Audrey Lyon, Yachad Executive Director
Letter to the Editor re: Metro Section story: “Stay and Wait” by Frederick Kunkle
Frederick Kunkle’s (Metro, April 13, 2015) reporting about the problems plaguing the D.C. Government’s Single Family Home Repair Program shines a welcome light on the challenges many of the city’s seniors face when they need critical home repair. As troubling as the programs delays and poorly performed repairs are, I can say from my perspective as the head of nonprofit local home-repair organization that the problem is far more wide-spread than even this article describes. The consequences for our city’s most economically fragile lower-income homeowners and on the communities around them are enormous. These homes are providing the last bastion of affordable housing to multiple generations of family members often within one home. Much attention is given to people without homes at all, but lurking just below this crisis is the serious and largely overlooked problem of dangerous and substandard housing in many of our city’s neighborhoods. This problem is underreported because there is no new unit of housing to point to or a family unit to show moving out of a homeless shelter. However, these families are in a silent crisis too.
This is housing that is often older, and has been owned by families for multiple generations. It will be gone either through on-going deferred repairs or gentrification. It is grandparents living with children, grandchildren and others in homes where the family is one step away from homelessness due to leaking roofs, dangerous electrical issues, toilets and sinks that don’t work.
Unfortunately, there are precious few resources and attention given to working with these families to ensure functional homes.
We need DHCD’s Single Family Home Repair Program with its significant resources to run efficiently and safely to help not only our city’s seniors but the hundreds of other families where a functional home is the first step to insuring a family’s success.
Yachad’s mission is to bring communities together by preserving affordable homes and revitalizing neighborhoods throughout the District of Columbia and the greater metropolitan area. Yachad means “together” in Hebrew, and that is how we do our work through partnerships with homeowners, houses of worship, nonprofits, and other community stakeholders. We mobilize skilled and unskilled volunteers, invest financial resources, and, through our work together, transform people and properties. Our mission is rooted in the Jewish commitment to seek justice by engaging in acts of loving kindness. We welcome people of all faiths to share in our work to keep our communities diverse and vital.