To help communities develop strategies to provide residents with warmer, safer and drier homes, Don Taylor, Founder and Director of Development for The Chesapeake Housing Mission, has announced the formation of the Chesapeake Housing Critical Repair Resource Center.
The center’s efforts will mirror the local success of the Chesapeake Housing Mission in Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties and focus on gathering key leaders to develop processes, understand building codes, identify those in need and build relationships with local governments and area nonprofits.
In January 2023, after stepping down from the position of Executive Director at Chesapeake Housing Mission, Taylor began work to establish a resource like the Chesapeake Housing Mission in Accomack and Northampton counties in Virginia.
“The progress has been slow, but we hope to have our first build done before December,” he said. “We hope to have at least one critical home repair nonprofit operating in each county within the next three years.”
The goal is to launch as many of these organizations as possible to improve the lives of citizens. The Center hopes to establish a local program in Western Sussex over the next one to two years, as well as in Caroline County.
“These needs are critical to improve the lives of our low-income citizens,” said Cheryl Meadows, Executive Director of Salisbury Neighborhood Housing Services and a Board Member for the Chesapeake Housing Critical Repair Resource Center. “Doesn’t everyone deserve to be warm, safe, and dry?”
Taylor’s experience in developing The Chesapeake Housing Mission showed how widespread the need for warm, safe, and dry homes was and still is.
Over the past 10 years, The Chesapeake Housing Mission has made great strides, completing close to 1,000 critical home repairs in Maryland’s lower four counties. Wicomico County Habitat for Humanity also helped by completing 100 critical repairs over the last 10 years. Several other smaller nonprofits have started and stopped because of lack of support.
The Healthy Homes Initiative, a three-year study, completed in 2022 between TidalHealth, county health departments, and The Chesapeake Housing Mission, contains extensive information concerning the impact of a healthy home on residents. The study showed that projects such as wheelchair ramps, handrails, roof leaks, and simple floor repairs can reduce falls by 80 percent.
“This finding is particularly significant because falls are a common cause of injuries, especially among older adults, and can have serious consequences on their health and quality of life,” said Steve Leonard, President & CEO of TidalHealth.
“This research underscores the vital role that the physical condition of a home plays in the overall health and safety of its occupants,” he said.
A key impact reported in the study was the reduction in healthcare costs for these residents, which was tracked at more than $1 million. The full study can be reviewed online at chesapeakehousingmission.org.
How are we going to ever catch up with the need?
According to the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network at Salisbury University, better known as BEACON, there are almost 12,000 single-family homes at or below the poverty level in Maryland’s lower four counties. This number does not include Sussex, Caroline, or Accomack counties.
By employing a low-cost but highly effective operation, The Chesapeake Housing Mission has been able to make repairs to 6 percent of those poverty-level residences.
Now, the Chesapeake Housing Critical Repair Resource Center hopes to help other communities develop similar programs to address their needs.
The Chesapeake Housing Critical Repair Resource Center is an official 501c3 as determined by the IRS, and donations are appreciated to cover basic travel, education, training, etc. Donations may be mailed to the Chesapeake Housing Critical Repair Resource Center, PO Box 1111, Salisbury, MD 21802. To reach The Center, call 410-726-5133.