Couple's home gets upgrades from Habitat for Humanity

BEL AIR, Md. (WMAR) - Maurice and Annie James have lived in their house for 45 years. Retired now, Maurice has experienced an active life, serving as an aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1950’s, then joining the Navy, before working a series of jobs through his professional career. His knees reflect the wear and tear of such a life, requiring Maurice to use a cane often. 

Mobility is even tougher for Annie, whose disability leaves her stuck on the second floor of the townhouse the couple shares with their daughter Marcia. Husband and daughter bring food and suffice Annie’s other needs as she remains stuck upstairs. 

The family looked to the Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna Repair Program for respite from their situation, applying to a program that helps low-income homeowners in Harford and Cecil Counties with essential home repairs and weatherization needs. After Habitat officials determined the family met the proper criteria for inclusion, Home Rehabilitation Supervisor Terry Hottle conducted a home assessment to determine what grants could be used to help the James family.

Soon the clipboards went away and the tool kits came out.

The family’s roof was replaced, thanks to the national Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project, a program designed to provide new roofs to veterans. Brothers Services Company provided the labor. Weatherization and insulation improvements were covered by a Maryland Energy Administration grant. 

Next came mobility upgrades, courtesy of the Home Depot Foundation Veteran Program and a Harford County Community Development Block Grant. The basement stairs and lighting were repaired. The upstairs bathroom had the bathtub replaced with a wheelchair accessible shower, including grab bars, a seat, and an adjustable shower head. To allow movement between floors in the home, a stair chair lift was installed, allowing Annie to come downstairs.

Employees from Home Depot then installed a 16-foot accessible ramp from the front door to the sidewalk, paid for by a Team Depot Home Preservation grant.

After construction on all the upgrades was complete, 45 volunteers from Habitat Susquehanna and 15 neighbors from the the First Harford Square neighborhood, chipped in with other aesthetic improvements. They completed yard work, gardening, mulching, tree trimming and gutter cleaning. 

Lastly, free smoke detectors were installed by the Red Cross at the James’ request.

With their home revamped to accommodate the couple’s needs, two long-time community residents can enjoy greater access to each other and their community thanks to the generosity of others.

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