The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Owner Occupied “Serve Our Seniors” (SOS) Minor Repair Program

Grant Information
Categories Community
Location South Texas
Cycle Year 2009
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Merced Housing Texas
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Susan R. sheeran
Phone 210-281-0234 ex. 202
Additional Information
Used for Merced operates the “Serve Our Seniors” (SOS) program to help low-income seniors and disabled persons with desperately needed health- and safety-related home repairs. This program also requires clerical and administrative work beyond the clear construction costs. With this grant, we will continue to cover administrative, labor and materials costs for the program.
Benefits The SOS Program improves the quality of life for the elderly and for those with disabilities. Beyond the obvious restoration of healthful, sanitary conditions, repairing seniors’ homes reduces stress, which creates further health benefits. Through the experience of repairing more than 380 homes, we have found that recipients of our program can also have renewed faith, hope for the future, and enthusiasm for life.
Proposal Description Through the SOS Program, Merced Housing Texas makes minor home repairs (with an average of $6,000 per home) for very low-income senior and disabled homeowners who cannot afford to keep their homes safe, sanitary, or structurally sound.

The goal of the SOS Program for 2010 is to repair 20 homes during our fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009 and ending June 30, 2010. By transforming elderly and disabled homeowners’ homes from places of fear and worry to places of comfort and safety, a more healthful environment is created that improves recipients’ overall quality of life and helps them to be productive members of the communities in which they live.

At the inception of the SOS Program in 2002, the first of the Owner Occupied Minor Repair Programs, the target area was the Denver Heights, Nevada Street, and Dignowity Hill neighborhoods on the East Side of San Antonio. According to the 2000 Census, 28.5% of families in the Denver Heights neighborhood (Census tract 1303) are below poverty level. The median household income is $19,941. Nineteen point five percent of the population is 55 or older. The percentage of the population in Census Tract 1303 that are disabled is 65.3.

Word of the program has spread through the East Side community, and Merced receives referrals and learns of many needs outside the initial target area. The programs have subsequently expanded to include neighborhoods south of Fort Sam Houston; east of IH-37; north of IH-10/Roland Avenue; and west of W.W. White/Lord Road/IH-410.

Merced has been increasingly successful in garnering collaborations with other entities, leveraging funds to repair increasing numbers of homes. Merced has collaborated on Owner-Occupied Minor Repairs with:

• San Antonio Water Systems, the Mission Espada Neighborhood Association, the City of San Antonio, and several for-profit corporations on the Espada Sewer Connect Program, providing sewer connections and other repairs for 21 homes.

• Avenida Guadalupe Association for repairs of seven homes.

• Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas and the City of San Antonio on the Minor Housing Repair Program, through which Merced has repaired 83 homes this year.

• The City of San Antonio Housing and Neighborhood Services Department, The Greater San Antonio Builders Association, Denver Heights/Nevada Street Neighborhood Associations, and former District 2 City Councilwoman Sheila McNeil on the Olive Street Makeover Project, through which 19 homes have been repaired.

• The Bexar County Community and Development Programs Department on the Bexar County Replacement Housing Program, providing four replacement manufactured houses.

To meet eligibility requirements for the SOS Program, applicants must:

a) own their homes;
b) have very low incomes (30% or less of the Area Median Income, adjusted for family size--$12,000 for someone living alone);
c) be either 56 or older and/or physically or mentally handicapped or with special needs; and
d) live south of Ft. Sam Houston, east of IH-37, north of IH-10/Roland Ave. and, west of W. W. White/Lord Rd./IH 410.

The process includes the following steps:

1) Merced receives a phone request or referral for OOMR services.
2) If they meet the above requirements, we will send them an application. The potential recipient sends Merced the completed application. A physician’s certificate is required for physically/mentally handicapped applicants. Merced staff determines whether the requested repairs constitute serious safety or health concerns. If so, Merced places the homeowners on a waiting list for repairs.
3) The Rehabilitation Specialist visits the home and makes an initial assessment of the needs. He photographs the areas in need of repair.
4) The Rehabilitation Specialist produces a written assessment of the repair needs.
5) Contractors visit the site and submit bids for the repair work.
6) Merced Rehabilitation Specialist contracts to make repairs.
7) The contractor applies for a permit with the City of San Antonio.
8) The contractor, Rehabilitation Specialist and SOS recipient sign the scope of work.
9) The contractor makes repairs.
10) The Rehabilitation Specialist inspects the work and documents the work with photographs.
11) Merced compensates the contractor.
12) Merced’s Operations Manager coordinates with the City for a permit inspection.*
13) The Rehabilitation Specialist interviews the recipient and administers the survey asking the recipient to rate the quality of the work and the manner in which it was accomplished.

Merced evaluates the success of the SOS Program internally through inspections by the Rehabilitation Specialist and externally by surveying recipients. The Rehabilitation Specialist, the Operations Manager, and President review rehabilitation experiences and discuss best practices on an ongoing basis. The Rehabilitation Specialist takes photographs of recipients’ homes during the initial assessment process and within a week after work has been completed. He inspects the completed work on each home. Recipients complete a survey, which allows them to rate aspects of the program on a scale of 1 to 5. They are asked to rate both the quality of the work itself and the demeanor and professionalism of the construction crew and Merced staff involved.

Recipients are given an opportunity to make additional comments. Some recent 2009 SOS recipients had the following comments: Anita Kay Brazil: “It has made the property something to be proud of. Having this work done gives me hope.” Ewell Daniels Sr. and family: “We just cannot express how grateful we are for your kindness. May God bless you all!” Christine C Kindred: “I cannot explain my happiness.”

With every day the programs continue, we receive more and more referrals and requests, underscoring the huge number of homeowners still in desperate need. The more experience Merced has in the East Side and other underserved areas of San Antonio, the more clearly we see how profound and far-reaching the need is. Merced receives a minimum of five phone calls a day from homeowners who have heard of our programs and need assistance. We work continuously to raise funds for the SOS Program and have a great deal of success, but the waiting list for repairs still outpaces the giving.

But with every request, our commitment is renewed to continue the programs and help as many deserving seniors and disabled homeowners as possible.