Carla Gray and Jan Schlick’s Story
“We can’t do a lot of things because we’re both disabled, but when Carla decided to move here to Fountain Manor, I came too. It was easier to get around here, and we can afford it. It is a beautiful area out in the country, so it worked out pretty good.”
Just seven years ago, right after Carla Gray and Jan Schlick moved in to Better Housing’s Fountain Manor Apartments, the women discovered they could stay busy by volunteering…
Carla Gray and Jan Schlick found a home and a calling with the help of Better Housing. A commitment to providing affordable housing allows Carla and Jan to have a safe and appropriate home at Fountain Manor. Residents who live in the Caroline apartments, along with Juniper Manor in Trumansburg and Newfield Garden in Newfield pay on a sliding scale based on income and age.
For individuals with disabilities, home ownership is often not an appropriate choice. Better Housing provides options that don’t consume a disproportionate portion of their budget. Without having to worry about their finances, health, and safety, Carla and Jan are free to give back to their community. “You’ve got to do something or you get bored,” Carla said. “If you sit at home, you just feel sorry for yourself.” Both are auxiliary members and fundraisers for the fire department, and they frequently pick up and deliver for the Caroline Food Pantry. “People ask me, ‘when do you sit down?’” Jan responds, “We don’t. We just enjoy it.”
Elton and Alice Nielsen’s Story
Elton is 86 and Alice 80. They have been married for 61 years. They met when Elton couldn’t resist throwing popcorn in Alice’s hair during a movie at a theater in Groton. Alice is diabetic, and has significant mobility problems. She has fallen several times and broke her hip in 2009. Elton must wear a knee brace and moves carefully around their home.
Better Housing’s Home Repair Program stepped in to help in December and replaced their traditional bathtub with a walk-in shower equipped with grab bars. “It means everything to be independent,” Alice says, “This is our home and we want to stay here together.”
The Fish Family’s Story
Three years ago, William and Rachel Fish lived in a small apartment with their two children, Jessica and Jacob. When Rachel became pregnant with their third child, Lindsay, they got serious about buying a home. Already crowded, with the coming baby, they needed a way to find a home that was big enough to accomodate their growing family yet affordable.
Like so many working TompkinsCounty families, they were facing the possibility of having to live farther away and commute into the County to work. Their human services jobs bring them a lot of satisfaction - Rachel, works with families in the Head Start program and William is a residential counselor with Glove House - but not a lot of means to afford a high mortgage. “There was no way we could have done this without Better Housing,”William told us.
The couple worked on reducing their debt, but were still doubtful of their chances at buying a home. Then they met with Rosie Zifchock , our housing programs manager. “She gave us hope,”Rachel said. The couple searched for a home for six months before finding their modest ranch home in a quiet Lansing neighborhood. “It was perfect,”William recalls, “good neighborhood, in the school district we wanted, didn’t need many repairs.” When it came on the market, they were one of seven potential buyers, and they were afraid the chance would slip away. Luckily, the sellers took to the young couple. “We couldn’t even afford their asking price, but they canceled the rest of their showings anyway.” The older couple loved the idea of another generation of children growing up in the home. A year later, the Fishes are still in contact with them.
The transition to ownership has been fairly smooth. Bob Hunt, our former construction manager, did a pre-purchase inspection with William and Rachel. He reviewed the systems and basic maintenance with them, and gave tips on things they could do to increase energy efficiency.
The personal attention, education and financial assistance has proved to be a winning combination for the Fish family and many others we have helped. Best of all, they will be able to raise their children in Lansing and enjoy an easier commute to work. “If it wasn’t for Better Housing, families just starting out could not survive and own real estate in Tompkins County,”William told us. “I recommend Better Housing to families all the time,”Rachel added.
These Are Just a Few of Our Many Success Stories
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