HILLSVILLE, VA, November 11, 2017 — Debra Bumgarner is a disabled veteran having served in both the Army and Army Reserves who lives with her son and daughter-in-law in an ageing generational home. Her son, Arce Bernal, has angular sclerosis, a degenerative disease that prevents him from being able to sit or stand for sustained periods of time and renders him unable to work. Eventually, Arce will be confined to a wheelchair. Currently their home is in need of a variety of essential repairs and maintenance to prevent the home from degrading and becoming a health risk to the family.
The Home Matters to Veterans program is working in conjunction with Fahe and Fahe Member Helping Overcome Poverty' Existence, Inc. (HOPE) to renovate Debra's home to make it safer and more accessible. Home Matters to Veterans is a collaboration between Wells Fargo Housing Foundation and Home Matters which is focused on re-modeling and refurbishing veteran homes with universal design elements to allow veterans to comfortably age-in-place. With an estimated 10,000 Americans turning 65-years old each day, ageless designs allow people to have more control over how and where they live, enabling them to stay in their homes as they grow older.
A generous contribution provided through Home Matters to Veterans will allow Fahe and HOPE to provide Ms. Bumgarner's home with a roof repair, a new heat pump, fresh paint, lighting, and an accessibility upgrade to the bathroom which will allow Ms. Bumgarner and her son to have safety, mobility, and comfort in their own home.
Fahe is one of five groups partnering in the Home Matters program. Other organizations across the country include Rebuilding Together San Francisco, Rebuilding Together New York City, Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services, and NeighborWorks Columbus located respectively in San Francisco, New York City, San Bernardino County, and Columbus, GA.
“While this initiative is just five homes for now, it provides a replicable model of various universal design elements that, no matter what budget someone has, can be added to help improve their emotional and physical well-being now and into the future,” said Dave Brown, CEO of Home Matters. “Because ultimately home is a quality-of-life issue.”
A supporter of the Home Matters movement since its inception, Wells Fargo Housing Foundation is focused on creating affordable and sustainable housing initiatives that serve low-and moderate-income households – including for seniors, veterans, and families – through community revitalization efforts.
“We believe everyone deserves a decent, safe place to call home,” said Martin Sundquist executive director of the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation. “We applaud this effort by Home Matters to make pointed improvements to each of the homes and meaningful differences for the veterans living in them.”
The improvements to her home mean that Ms. Bumgarner and her family can live there for many years to come and help prevent her from becoming a statistic. Poverty, lack of support from groups or networks, and substandard housing put about 1.4 million veterans at risk for homelessness*.
“It was just like a blessing,” said Ms. Bumgarner when she found out she had been selected as a candidate for the Home Matters for Veterans program. She's made a life of serving other people. Now HOPE and Fahe are grateful for the opportunity to serve her.
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