Healing Home and Repairing Lives:

Novalene's Story

Novalene with her grandson, after enjoying a piece of chocolate cake. Novalene is the grandmother of nine grandchildren, whom she looks after on a regular basis.
Did you know that 1 in 4 houses in East Kentucky are valued at less than $50,000? The majority of these homes were built before 1989, so the housing stock in the four counties served by HDA is aging and of lower quality. This fact limits lending opportunities for major maintenance and repairs for the area’s current homeowners. In addition, lower incomes make it financially impossible for many families to purchase a new home.

But help from our donors and funders have helped so many individuals and families get the repairs they need! Over the last year, HDA completed 41 home rehabilitation projects, which made those homes safer and better places to live for the homeowners.

Additionally, HDA was able to make over 25 emergency repairs for folks whose homes were damaged during a destructive windstorm that passed through eastern Kentucky in late April 2020. The repairs kept many of those families from becoming displaced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it comes to major repair work in our region, one of our most common projects is bathroom replacement. A homeowner who needed a project like this is Novalene Miller, who lives in the Doc’s Branch community of Perry County.

Novalene lives alone in a home that was given to her by family after the death of her husband. She regularly cares for her nine grandchildren – sometimes, all at once! The home she lives in is an old one, having been handed down for generations. The bathroom in Novalene‘s home needed to be completely replaced, but she couldn’t afford it. As part of HDA’s push to help the next 1,000 families in just 10 years, our donors and funders made it possible for us to replace all of the plumbing and flooring in Novalene‘s bathroom, which included installing a new shower, tub, toilet, and vanity.

A couple of months after the work was completed, Novalene called to check in with us.

“I just wanted to see how much I owe,” she said. “It’s just absolutely beautiful. I’ll pay whatever I need to each month.”

Novalene didn’t realize that she had been approved for a grant that covered any remaining costs. When we told her, she was overcome.

"That has just taken my breath away!" she said. "I can't believe that. Thank you all so much! And to give back, I'll help somebody else with the repairs they need."

That’s what affordable home repairs offer to East Kentucky homeowners: less worry, more time to focus on other needs and the needs of their families, and time and again, it inspires mountain people to help other mountain people.

To apply for HDA’s Home Repair Program, click here.

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