Non-Profit Helps Widow With Home Repairs After Safeco Leaves Florida

Aug 26, 2011

The following article was published in The Hometown News on August 26, 2011:

Homeowners can get free help to fix homes

By Samantha Joseph

Indiantown Non-profit Housing is offering a program to help residents cut their utility bills by making their homes energy-efficient.

The group’s weatherization assistance program provides free repairs, weather stripping, caulking and other services to low-income homeowners, said publicist Courtney Thomas.

But it’s also played a larger, more pivotal role in the life of one Indiantown woman.

In 2005, just months after her husband’s death, Alice Gaskins almost lost her home to hurricane damage.

“The inside of my house was torn up, the roof was torn up,” said Ms. Gaskin, now 79 years old.

The widow had homeowner’s insurance through Safeco for more than 50 years, without ever filing a claim, she said.

But that year, the insurer only covered a fraction of the damages, issuing her $20,000 in payments, before withdrawing from Florida.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do next,” she said.

When a friend referred her to Indiantown Non-profit Housing, the group stepped in.

The agency replaced 13 windows, put up storm shutters, fixed the roof and repaired a damaged room.

One employee even personally brought an industrial vacuum to help soak up some of the water in parts of the house before the contractors arrived.

“They did a lot for me,” said Ms. Gaskins, who continues to live in the house she built with her husband in 1957.

“I could not have done on my own what they did for me. I just can’t say enough good about them.”

The program provides assistance to residents throughout South Florida, including Martin, St Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties.

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