St. Ambrose is now a HUBS site! (Housing Upgrades Benefiting Seniors)

Housing Upgrades Benefiting Seniors (HUBS) is a program that assists older adults (over 65) in Baltimore city. This program allows seniors to continue to live in their homes and neighborhoods as they age by helping them with home repairs and modifications. Older Adults like Ms. G.

Ms. G. has been a lifelong member of the Baltimore community. Born and raised in the city, Ms. G. knew she wanted to devote her life to serving others. She started working at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore in 1965 registering patients at their time of need and loved every minute of it. Ms. G. moved into her home in 1986 with her husband, son and daughter. She came to know St. Ambrose through the pastor at her church, Garden of Prayer Christian Church. The pastor went above and beyond to connect his parishioners with St. Ambrose and the services that are available. Additionally, the church was an Adopt-A-Family participant and contributed yearly to this fund serving families who just need a little extra help.

Ms. G. was forced to retire after 33 years of service to St. Agnes Hospital due to a debilitating car accident resulting in four major surgeries over a 12-month period. The accident left her and her husband permanently and significantly disabled. Due to several years of medical issues following the death of her husband, Ms. G., like many clients, was left tackling the challenges of senior homeownership alone.

She came to St. Ambrose when faced with a homeownership crisis. Understandably, the routine maintenance of the home fell through the cracks which left her with a severe roof leak. Since she had no homeowners insurance, she was financially unable to make the repairs to her roof.

Over time, the leak became a gaping hole in the ceiling that had debris, snow and rain water rushing into her upstairs bedroom. She has maintained the leak with over 20 receptacles catching the rain water/snow/debris but it has become too much to handle. Although she has a son nearby and a friend to check on her, Ms. G. knew this was too big a problem for them to handle on their own. Ms. G. turned to St. Ambrose and the HUBS Program for help. Gail MacInnes, HUBS Case Manager, met with Ms. G. to devise a plan of action to make the repairs to her roof that she desperately needed. With the assistance of grant funding, St. Ambrose was able to facilitate the repairs which will allow her to utilize the space in her home while giving her the safety and security that she needs at this time in her life.

“I have lived in this home forever. I have put roots here. This home is what I have created and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Thank you, St. Ambrose for giving me the ability to stay in my home. St. Ambrose has truly been a blessing in my life. I never knew how much fixing a roof could cost and I couldn’t have afforded it on my own, especially as a widow. I know there are many other seniors who could benefit from the services provided by the HUBS Program and St. Ambrose. They need to know they are not alone.”

In this way, the HUBS program assists seniors in remaining safe and independent in their own homes for as long as possible.

Homeownership Counseling: Empowerment and Education

Not many people would enjoy going to work for six hours on a Saturday afternoon. However, Anthony Parran might be one of them. With over 18 years of experience educating and empowering prospective homebuyers, Mr. Parran conducts free monthly homeownership workshops where he provides packets of information, guest speakers, sandwiches, and a friendly atmosphere where questions can be posed freely.

Despite the workshop’s easy-going environment, however, Parran also makes sure that homebuyers know the effort required in purchasing and owning a home. Referring to himself as the “reality check man,” Parran warns of scammers, stresses the work required to repair damaged credit, and advises participants to “know your [financial] comfort zone.”

In the aftermath of the economic and foreclosure crisis-and after years of increased complexity in the home-buying process-such counseling is needed now as much as ever. For while the benefits of homeownership education-including reduced mortgage default rates and increased purchasing power-have long been realized, the ongoing foreclosure crisis has been a dramatic reminder of the importance of homeownership education and counseling.

The financial crisis has also had a significant impact upon the Homeownership Program’s work. Future efforts are focused on new methods of outreach, increased follow-up with clients, and improved case management. Given current market conditions, the program is also re-evaluating its curriculum in order to take a more comprehensive approach, with increased emphasis on post-purchase and financial literacy counseling.

As Mr. Parran says, “experience is the best teacher.” And there is much to learn from the current wave of foreclosures.