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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

An Early Christmas Gift

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SARATOGA – Having a place to call home is something many of us take for granted, but for one local family it’s a dream come true.

Thanks to support from the first round of grants offered through the Saratoga County Manufactured Home Replacement Program, Suzanne, 39, and her 15-year-old daughter are just days away from having a safe, warm place to call home.

The program was piloted in 2011 through a partnership between the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company (SCRPC) and the Town of Saratoga, combining grant monies from the Homes and Community Renewal, Community Development Block Grant and the Affordable Housing Corporation to help homeowners obtain safe housing.

Prior to receiving assistance, Suzanne, a disabled veteran, was living in a 30-year-old mobile home wrought with structural problems. “It needed a new roof, the floors were rotten and some windows didn’t work,” she explained. “It needed more repairs than I could keep up with.”
With no other options, she swallowed her pride and applied for assistance.

“I was afraid to ask for help at first. I’ve always been self-sufficient, but I just couldn’t do it anymore,” she said. “When I found out we would be getting help, I cried. I just feel extremely blessed.”

With her acceptance into the program, Suzanne received grant monies to replace her inadequate mobile home with a new Energy Star approved manufactured home. The program also covered the cost of demolition and the site work needed to bring the structure into compliance with building codes.

“I’m so thankful,” she said. “There have been so many people that have received help through this program. I’m just one of them.”

Together, the SCRPC and Town of Saratoga have completed 13 mobile home replacement projects since the program was initiated last year, and an additional four are in progress. Not everyone who applied received assistance.

Both SCRPC and the Town of Saratoga were surprised at the overwhelming response from county residents. The demand for assistance exceeded available funds within the first six months of the program.

“This is clearly a pressing need throughout Saratoga County,” said SCRPC Executive Director, A.C. Mazurek. “We were shocked to find so many people living in unsafe conditions, and it’s a shame we don’t have adequate funding to help everyone in need of assistance.”

Town of Saratoga Supervisor Tom Wood echoed this sentiment: “With help from SCRPC, we were able to provide safe, affordable housing for some of Saratoga County’s neediest residents,” he said. “The program has been incredibly successful, and we encourage other municipalities to reach out to us and learn from our experience.”

The agency currently has a waiting list of over 20 qualified applicants and plans to seek additional funds in 2012.

Suzanne and her daughter are thrilled to be moving into a safe and accessible home just in time for Christmas.

“The first thing to go up will be the tree and the nativity,” Suzanne said. “My daughter is so excited to move into her new room, she’s already planning where to put her furniture.” 
Suzanne said that seeing the excitement in her daughter’s eyes brings tears to her own: “It’s wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” she said.

She wishes to thank SCRPC and the Town of Saratoga, and urges others to not be afraid to ask for help.

“I am thankful to live in a community that wants everyone to be safe in their homes,” she said. “I thank God every time I pull in my driveway and see my new home. The program changed our lives.”

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