Seniors’ Christmas is brightened by the presents of rehab in Colorado Springs Colorado Springs Information

Debra Thum had crawled up the stairs of her house after a string of heart attacks that kept her breathless before her new stairlift was installed for free in December.

The elevator was only part of her renovation, which will allow her to stay in her home despite asthma and other health issues, she said. Her family was considering taking her to a care facility because they feared she would fall down the stairs, she said.

“I was so happy … I want to bow everything,” said Thum, a retired housekeeper. The renovations, including a walk-in shower, are her Christmas presents, she said.

Thum is one of about 50 residents, mostly extremely low-income seniors, who had their homes remodeled this year as part of the city’s home repair program, said Barb Van Hoy, policy analyst with the city’s community development department. The city provides $ 500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds each year to the program, which helps keep seniors and other needy residents in their homes and ensure their homes are affordable, she said.

“Think of a senior who may receive a Social Security check for $ 400 to $ 500 each month. This doesn’t include groceries, medicines, and utilities, much less home repairs. This program is a lifeline for them,” she said.

The city is allocating $ 20,000 for home renovations and an additional $ 5,000 may be allocated for lead paint or asbestos reduction, she said.

The high cap on individual renovations can make a big difference to seniors with significant home maintenance delays, said Jonathan Sandberg, home renovation coordinator at Brothers Redevelopment, the nonprofit running the program for the city.

For example, replacing an aging sewer line can help make a house far more livable, and it can take at least 50 years to run, but it can also be quite expensive, he said.

Deborah Johnson’s sewer replacement earlier this year was $ 9,000. It’s a line that hopefully will keep her from ever standing ankle-deep in the sewage in her basement or worrying about bills from Roto-Rooter again, she said.

Johnson, who is partially disabled from breaking her back and pelvis, lived at the end of a 300-foot sewer that flooded her entire basement at least four times since moving to her home west of downtown in 1989, she said . Johnson, a paraducator who worked at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, always tucked away money for repair bills, she said. The last time it was secured, she had to tell guests not to use her toilet, she said. Now those worries are gone.

“I feel blessed,” she said.

Low-income residents in need of home rehab can learn more about the qualification at

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