Monson veteran praises organizations for home repairs

MONSON – A recent collaboration between Purple Heart Homes (PHH) and Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH), restored the residence of a military veteran and his family.

PHH is a veterans’ services agency that focuses on housing solutions. While they are based out of North Carolina, PHH serves veterans all over the country.

GSHFH is a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization that assists low-income families across Hampden County, to better their lives through homeownership and home repair opportunities, explained their Family Services Manager, Deborah O’Mara.

Peter Wiggins, a retired Army National Guard staff sergeant and his wife, Beth, purchased a duplex in Monson three years ago. The couple occupies one unit, while Beth’s daughter and grandson live in the other one. According to O’Mara, both units needed repairs.

In fall 2021, O’Mara said PHH contacted Habitat and made them aware of the Wiggins family’s needs. She described their case as “extensive.”

As GSHFH’s Home Preservation Program provides micro-loans to homeowners who qualify, O’Mara said they visited the Monson home for an inspection of the three problem areas, including a moss-spotted roof, broken water heater in the daughter’s unit and damaged exterior doors at both dwellings. Once the assessment was complete and they talked with the Wiggins family, O’Mara said, “We found them to be qualified.”

In this case, Habitat acted as the general contractors and hired three separate contractors to work on the three different projects. “Purple Heart Homes subsidized the project very generously,” said O’Mara.
“We finished it all in four months,” she continued. “It took a long time to finish,” due to material shortages, a result of the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, O’Mara said they ordered the doors around November, and they didn’t arrive until March.

O’Mara said, “The [Wiggins] family was very patient,” but are happy that their home preservation project is now complete. Wiggins said, “My house was looking like the ‘Amityville Horror’ house but now it sparkles like Disneyland.” Now that the moss that once covered the roof and front steps is gone, he said the organizations did “an excellent job, worthy of praise and kudos.”

When GSHFH assists a family with home repairs, O’Mara said they typically ask for a small contribution from the family based on affordability. She explained that their level of affordability is determined through a review of the homeowner’s finances. Once a contribution is made, the money goes to GSHFH, to pay the contractors and subcontractors they hired for the project.

Depending on the home and its repair needs, O’Mara said prices range. “What people need can vary from a roof to new flooring, to prevent tripping, new bathrooms,” and more. For example, she said accessibility modifications can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000.

While this is not the first time PHH and GSHFH have worked together, O’Mara said, “It was great to collaborate with Purple Heart Homes and I look forward to working with them in the future.”

For more information on Purple Heart Homes, visit https://purplehearthomesusa.org/ Additional information on Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity can be found on their website at https://www.habitatspringfield.org/.