Categories: Habitat Happenings, Home Repair, Habitat Tucson

Susan’s Critical Home Repair

Susan’s roof had been leaking for four years.

She first moved to Tucson 40 years ago, when, she says, “I came out here and went, ‘What? There’s palm trees in the medians! There’s mountains!’ I fell in love with Tucson. I went back to New York, I quit my job, and I moved out here. I was 22, so I had no fear.”

Before being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Susan was an electrical engineer. Nowadays, she enjoys sewing and spending time with her three dogs and son who lives nearby. She combines her scientific and artistic skills to create sculptures of nature using recycled circuit boards.

Her house is a classic Tucson home that is wheelchair accessible, but her medical costs prevented her from purchasing the roof repairs she needed.

Susan says, “I owned this home before I was diagnosed. After I was diagnosed, my health went downhill fast. It’s been really hard. I’ve had to modify or invent things myself- but that’s what I did at my job. So now, I invent things just to get by every day.”

“Everything is so expensive, including medical devices. So that’s been the biggest challenge: trying to meet the financial needs of this disease.”

She tried to save up for the roof repair, but, says, “It just snowballed. The cost of everything doubled in four years. So there’s no way I could. Fixing the roof was out of reach. As in, way out of my reach, not even just a little bit. It might as well have cost a million bucks. And it just kept getting worse and worse. I felt like I had a knife to my throat. I felt like, ‘I have to do something right now.’”

Susan needed a hand up. So, she visited the City of Tucson’s website to explore subsidized home repair programs. She signed up for a waitlist.

Almost as soon as the City’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity Tucson began, she was approved.

She says, “Once it was my turn on the list, it was painless. It just went so fast.”

Susan was amazed at how quickly the repair was finished. “Habitat was wonderful. I cannot say enough good things. They were so respectful of me and of the property. They dropped off the materials. Then, the next day they were here, and they put the roof on. It took them 6 hours. The next day they were gone.”

When we asked how this repair would make a difference in her life, she said, “I don’t have a leaky roof anymore. That’s something that I don’t have to think about, don’t have to worry about, you know, ‘Here comes monsoon!’ I don’t have to listen for dripping water. I don’t have that worry at all anymore. Thank goodness.

Susan’s home repair will allow her to age safely in place without facing health or safety risks from mold, leakage, or roof stability. In the home she’s owned for years, Susan will be able to continue crafting, learning, and taking care of herself and her dogs. Thanks to Habitat Tucson’s home repair program, she will have access to funds she could have spent on the roof repair, enabling her to save more to manage her chronic illness.

But Susan says that the best thing was how simple and respectful the whole process was.

“When you have MS, everything feels like a fight. Everything is such a fight, with everyone. Doctors, insurance, everything. You have to jump through so many hoops. Sometimes you want to give up. But it wasn’t like that with Habitat. It was refreshing. It was really wonderful.”

We are ramping up our home repair efforts through a new partnership with the City of Tucson. Habitat Tucson is enabled to maximize your impact using Community Development Block Grant funding and your gifts. 

Because of your gifts and this partnership, this year 20 more families in Southern Arizona can stay in their homes safely and affordably.

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