Nine years ago, Gerardo Martinez and his wife bought a home in the Mobile Towne community in Richmond. They moved to Richmond 15 years ago, Gerardo from Costa Rica and his wife from Guatemala. The three-bedroom house was perfect for them and their one-year-old daughter. It was close to work and shops, and they liked the tight-knit community.
A few years ago, the home started to fall into disrepair. Gerardo only had enough money to pay for the materials to fix the roof. His neighbor helped him with the labor. His heating system was broken and only partially worked. “It caused a lot of trouble,” said Gerardo, who works in maintenance at a golf course. “We had trouble heating most of the rooms, especially the bedrooms. We had quite a few problems. One room, only the bathroom, would heat up and the other rooms very little.”
Gerardo’s neighbor, who had already been served by project:HOMES, told him about the program and he reached out for help. In an effort to reach more underserved families and low-income households in need of home repair in our region, project:HOMES started a Mobile Home Repair Program two years ago, funded by the City of Richmond and Chesterfield County. Work includes sealing roofs, replacing unstable floors and installing heating and cooling systems. project:HOMES also tries to leverage funds from the Renew Crew Volunteer Program to help clients who are in need of accessibility improvements, such as wheelchair ramps, handrails, grab bars and chair height toilets.
project:HOMES installed a new central air heat pump system for Gerardo and it immediately brought comfort for the family. He’s seen a drastic reduction in his electricity bills and says he is able to save his money now that his bills are lower. “This has changed everything. I keep the system at the right temperature and the temperature is perfect in the bathroom and in the bedrooms. Now we can sleep well, it’s very nice,” he said.
Their old system didn’t include air conditioning. Gerardo says his family is much more comfortable now that they have a cooling system. “Before, in the summer you felt it. It was very hot,” said Gerardo, who says it was difficult for them to enjoy their love of cooking because it would get too hot in the kitchen.
project:HOMES also installed a new floor and a new tub in the bathroom. “The whole bathroom floor was starting to deteriorate. Everything on the floor was very moist. There was water that was rotting the wood of the floor. I was afraid that everything would fall under the bathtub,” he said. “The bathroom has improved so much. Thank you.”
The front railings and steps leading to Gerardo’s house were rotten and project:HOMES installed new ones. “They were dangerous. The steps to the driveway were bad before,” said Gerardo, who was worried about his daughter and her friends getting hurt. “It turned out well. Now we can go up and down when we need to. Now I know we’re not going to fall.”
“Thank you very much to all of you who make our dreams come true. Now we don’t have anything bad to worry about in the house. Everything is so much better,” said Gerardo. “I feel good in my little house. Comfort.”