Making a home safe and healthy for a mother and daughter

September 17, 2020
by Mahogany Charlton Roland, Executive Director at Rebuilding Together San Francisco

Alice is an 81-year-old homeowner who resides in San Francisco. She has lived in her home and community for nearly 30 years and affectionately calls her house the ‘home on the hill’.

“We love our home on the hill, having our own space and the view,” said Alice. “We love the deck because we can feel the outside and the openness. This home is my life.”

As a retired social worker, Alice spent many years serving her community by taking care of others. She is also the primary caretaker for her 52-year-old daughter, Ariana, who has a disability and was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.

Over time, while navigating a demanding full-time career and caring for her daughter, Alice’s home fell into disrepair. The front staircase in Alice’s home was broken and could not be accessed safely. There was an active leak in the kitchen, the hood of the stove needed to be repaired and Alice wondered if there was a way to make the bathroom safer as both she and her daughter had difficulty navigating it.

In addition to the repairs needed to help make the inside of their home safer, Alice longed for a new deck so she and Ariana could spend more time outside. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, amid growing concerns for her and her daughter’s health, Alice reached out to Rebuilding Together San Francisco for assistance.

With the help of Wells Fargo Builds, a national collaboration with Wells Fargo that enables Rebuilding Together affiliates to provide critical home repairs to individuals in need at no cost to them, we were able to provide repairs that were transformational to the health and safety of Alice and her family. We increased Alice and Ariana’s mobility in their home by repairing the front staircase and installing grab bars in the bathrooms, repaired the leak in the kitchen, replaced the hood of their stove, cleared debris in the yard and planted new landscaping. In addition, we installed fire extinguishers, carbon dioxide sensors and alarms, smoke detectors and GCFFI outlets and, perhaps most exciting for Alice and Ariana, replaced their deck. Alice can now safely age in the community she loves, provide a safer environment for her daughter, and keep the home in the family.

“The repairs mean everything,” said Alice. “My family has had many struggles, but this house is where our family can come together to support Ariana. It is the hub of our closeness. We need this home and the outdoor space to navigate supporting each other, and to heal while staying safe and healthy.”

Wells Fargo is investing more than $1.3 million in Rebuilding Together’s work, bringing tangible assistance and aid to homeowners throughout the country.

“We’ve had a rich history of working with Rebuilding Together to strengthen Bay Area neighborhoods through philanthropy and volunteerism,” Erica Trejo, the SVP of philanthropy with Wells Fargo, told me. “Safe and stable housing enables families like Alice and Ariana to build upon the rest of their life and, together, we can shift the narrative to help others understand that housing affordability is both an economic and humanitarian crisis that’s taking a toll on millions of people.”

Nationally, Rebuilding Together and Wells Fargo have committed to making improvements to 75 homes in 2020.