If you have driven around the Community lately, you may have noticed several new homes going up and may have wondered to whom they belong. Thanks to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Senior Home Repair and Replacement Program (SHRRP), 11 new homes have been built this year.
The SHRRP was established to offer assistance to senior and disabled Community members to improve their housing conditions by providing them the opportunity for a safe and healthy home that facilitates a suitable quality of life.
Engineering and Construction Services (ECS), the Salt River Housing Division (SRHD) and Health and Human Services (HHS) work jointly to repair Community homes to meet both living and safety standards. The program provides emergency and maintenance repairs and/or new housing or structural renovations on existing homes in both Salt River and Lehi.
The program averages 2000 service orders a year; since the program began in 2004, 24 homes have been constructed and seven have undergone renovations. The program is currently funded until 2015.
Another important aspect of the program is that Community-member contractors are used to construct the homes, including the businesses Pro Low Enterprises, owned by Garnett Gates; Au’ Authum Ki, Inc., owned by Margaret Rodriguez; and Seven Stars of Arizona, LLC, owned by Angela Willeford.
“We predominantly use Community-owned businesses for the work,” said ECS Director Todd Auger. “We have done everything possible to utilize Community resources, which is important because it helps support our self-determination.”
“Seven Stars of Arizona LLC was just a tool utilized by the Community to build these homes for the seniors of the Community,” said business owner Angela Willeford. “It’s an honor and a treasure to be able to build the homes for my people.” Seven Stars of Arizona put up seven homes this year in the Community.
Auger said the homes that are currently built are beautiful, handicapped accessible and energy efficient. The program doesn’t want our seniors and disabled residents to have to worry about getting around in their homes.
“The emotion that went with giving someone a new home—there is no explanation to that emotion, and you always want to strive to continue to do this,” said Auger.
History of the SHRRP Program
In 2003, the Salt River Tribal Council decided Community members who were 55 and older or disabled would be eligible for a home-repair program. That same year, Council approved $100,000 toward building materials, personnel, trucks and tools.
The Community was at a point that they were providing a lot of services to everyone, and a decision from leadership had to be made to cut some costs and determine who should receive the services. Council decided it was only going to fulfill service orders for enrolled Community seniors, elders and disabled residents, and those on dialysis.
According to Auger, prior to that homeowners could call up and have ECS work on their houses labor free. But this change was done to reduce a little of the cost and to focus more on the disabled and seniors of the Community.
Prior to the ECS Department, the Community was taken advantage of when some contractors built homes here that were sub-standard. There was no building code enforcement or compliance at that time, and a lot of homes were not built within a safe standard. When staff started looking into the homes, they noticed a lot of electrical, plumbing and structural deficiencies. Many homes were abandoned because of an electrical short that caused a fire; termites were another issue in many homes.
The good news is that today the SHRRP has an ordinance that outlines all of the responsibilities, guidelines, committees, eligibility and categories for its proper operation.
In 2003, ECS went door-to-door to assess the heating and cooling systems in homes of approximately 350 residents age 55 and older. Swamp coolers were replaced with air conditioners. This was also the first time that the Learning Center was able to get involved, to help out Community members and get them some working experience outside the classroom.
Council endorsed the air-conditioner replacement program and wanted ECS to continue evaluating homes for their general construction and give each home a rating of poor, average or excellent condition. Once again, several Community departments partnered on the project, including SRHD, ECS, HHS and Public Works, making it a success.
What they found was many homes had doorways and hallways that didn’t provide wheelchair access to bedrooms and bathrooms. Council took this all into consideration, and in 2004 they agreed to fund SHRRP over the next six years.
Although the program was initially for service repairs only, if a home was rated as poor condition and listed as un-repairable, it would be eligible to be replaced by a new home
Other Assistance to Homeowners
“We were impressed by the SHRRP and we thought it would be a wonderful program for the Miracle House Foundation (MHF) to get involved with,” said Miracle House President Margaret Rodriguez. “We got involved in 2006, when they indicated that they help with the disabled and elderly, [which is] one of the goals in the Miracle House Foundation’s mission statement.”
MHF Secretary Carrie Donahue said they help the SHRRP every year with energy-efficient appliances, and help with remodeling kitchens and bathrooms to make them handicapped accessible.
SHRRP works closely with MHF, filling out paperwork on behalf of the homeowners.
“We provide training to the homeowners for preventive maintenance, whether it is helping with their new appliances or how to take care of their home and keep its integrity,” said Lamoni Yazzie, director of the Salt River Housing Division. “It is a wonderful mission that SHRRP provides and I am glad that we can also be a part of it.”
Housing also helps with property insurance by giving homeowners orientation, education and support.
Health Services is also involved, by providing medical-need statements for Community members who are requesting to have work done on their home.
When a new construction or major renovation project is going to be done for a homeowner, Susan Nayetewa in HHS Central Intake becomes involved, helping to determine if the owner/family meets the guidelines. She will then pass the referral to ECS.
“SHRRP is an excellent program that has provided homes for Community-member seniors and individuals with disabilities, and HHS participates with the program in a couple of different ways,” said HHS Director Violet Mitchell–Enos.
“Our Health, Behavioral Health and Social Services divisions can make referrals for home repair or replacement to ECS. The support from Council for the construction and renovation of homes is wonderful and it ensures the safety of the family.”
A Proactive Approach
Auger said there is no other Community that has a program like the SHRRP.
“Council has been very generous to support this program since day one, and it is a testament for them to ensure we protect the seniors and their homes,” he said.
The SHRRP is anticipating building one to two homes per year. The program also helps to maintain the home, and by doing this the life of the home is extended.
In the spring, there is also a wildfire prevention program to aid elders who cannot maintain their yards and prevent fire hazards near they’re residences. A 30-foot defensible space is recommended around the house is established. A Community member–owned business provides this service and removes the weeds and tree overgrowth
For more information about the Senior Home Repair and Replacement Program, call the SHRRP Hotline at (480) 362-7800.