By Jennifer Farnsworth
Rebuilding Together of Saratoga County and their selfless volunteers have again gone above and beyond.
The organization opened a store in mid-July that will help in their quest to improve the lives of many low-income homeowners.
Michaela Brown of Rebuilding Together, said The Store at Rebuilding Together Saratoga, at 132 Milton Ave. in Ballston Spa, sells new and lightly used furniture, household goods and building materials.
The organization had been in talks for about two years before deciding to make the store a reality. They chose the organization’s headquarters on Milton Avenue in Ballston Spa as the location for the store. It is already filled with home furnishings and decor, all donations from people in and around the region.
“The proceeds from the store will be used to help us underwrite our operations and projects, so we can help even more homeowners in need live in homes that are dry, warm and safe,” said Brown.
Rebuilding Together of Saratoga was founded by Executive Director Michelle Larkin in 2003, with the support of her husband Dan, friends and family from the Saratoga County community, as well as the national Rebuilding Together organization. They are an independent, local affiliate of Rebuilding Together, which currently has 142 affiliates across the country.
Brown said the organization helps qualified homeowners who are not able to make home repairs. They work to coordinate the volunteers, contractors, tools and supplies needed and provide the services at no cost to the homeowner.
“We also rehabilitate properties that house qualifying nonprofit organizations serving our community. We focus our efforts on older adults, individuals living with disabilities, active and retired members of the armed services, and families with children, tailoring services to meet the needs of each individual homeowner,” said Brown.
According to Brown, more than 800 volunteers have dedicated over 4,000 hours of their time to repair 120 homes and four nonprofit facilities and community spaces in Saratoga County.
In the past 14 years, they have repaired 836 homes and 77 nonprofit centers.
Although many may not necessarily think of Saratoga County as place in need of such an organization, Brown said the need for repair and accessibility modification services for low-income homeowners is substantial.
She said, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are 64,665 owner-occupied homes in Saratoga County and, of these homes, 16,115 have “conditions,” like lacking complete plumbing facilities, lacking complete kitchen facilities, overcrowding, and/or paying more than 30 percent of the household income for housing.
“In 2016, the families we helped have lived in their homes for more than 20 years on average, and their average income was $25,041, which is less than 50 percent of the area median income, considered very low-income. Forty-four percent of the people that we served last year are older adults, and 57 percent are individuals living with a disability.
“The homeowners we help are low-income and do not have the resources available to make needed repairs to their homes. If critical repairs are not made, these homeowners will be forced to live in unsafe, unsanitary and unhealthy conditions or abandon their homes,” said Brown.
Brown said the hope is that the store will help alleviate the cost associated with helping homeowners in need.
Rebuilding Together Saratoga County is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization. Donations for the store can be brought to 132 Milton Ave.
For more information, visit www.RTSaratoga.org.