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March 27, 2024

More Than Just a Home: A Critical Repair Story

By Alexa Johnson

One Sunday morning, Lesley woke up to find that all the clothes in her closet were soaking wet. As she walked from room to room in her hundred-year-old home, she discovered that her roof was leaking in three places. 

Lesley is a Queens, New York native but has lived in the Statesville area for 26 years. She bought her historic home in April 2009 and fell in love with its character and the quiet, peaceful neighborhood. Built in the 1920s, Lesley believes the home is one of the oldest in the community, and she admires the history and craftsmanship daily. “I’m glad I can have a piece of it,” she said. She loves to think of those who came before her, the lives lived within the home, and the stories it could tell. 

Over the years, Lesley has poured into her home. She’s taken on projects big and small, even making sacrifices like selling her car and pulling from her retirement fund when necessary. She had her home’s copper plumbing repaired, and she had just finished replacing the windows when her roof began leaking. When she couldn’t get her insurance company to fix the roof, she had it patched several times as a temporary solution. 

After a years-long struggle to get her roof replaced through her insurance company, Lesley’s boss suggested that she apply for Habitat Charlotte Region’s Critical Home Repair program. As a Minimum Housing Inspector, Lesley was already familiar with Habitat’s work but hadn’t considered what the program could do for her. She decided to apply and was accepted. 

One day during the project, Lesley recalls being lulled to sleep by the drumming of hammers on her roof. When the noises stopped as the crew took a break for lunch, Lesley woke up and decided to check on the progress. “When I stepped out of the door, I literally teared up because that was what I needed the most,” she said. “It really comforted me that when they put the new roof on my house, my house was secure.”  

a burden lifted

All Lesley wanted was to no longer worry about the roof over her head, but our team’s holistic approach to repairs included additional work to keep her home safe and livable for years to come. “Not only did I get the roof, but I would come home every day and notice things and think ‘there’s another gift,’’’ she recalled. The team replaced her front steps and the railings on her porch, repaired and replaced her plumbing and electrical systems, waterproofed her crawlspace, addressed several cracks in the home’s foundation, and more. “They cared about my house as much as I do,” she said of the Habitat crew. 

Lesley’s home is more than just a house to her – she considers it to be part of her family. While Lesley’s four children did not grow up in the house, she is the proud grandmother to twenty grandchildren who frequently spend time there. “They come in and they’re home. They know this house, they know everything about it,” she said. Throughout this process, her grandchildren have taken notice of the changes and have gotten to observe Lesley’s dedication and the pride she takes in her home. “They’re learning what’s important – that it’s a privilege to be able to own a home and that you have to take care of what you have.” 

Now that the repairs are complete, Lesley has found a new sense of solace in her beloved home. Rather than worrying about patching her roof or repairing her plumbing, she can focus on smaller projects, and enjoy her space and time with her family. “Now I feel safe. I feel a burden has been lifted,” she said. “I can start saving for things that might come up. That’s security. I have a safe house and I know if something breaks, I can afford to fix it because the big things were taken care of.” 

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