After retirement, Mike Schulz joined Rebuilding Together Sandoval County (RTSC) as a volunteer and board member to give back to the community. Over the years, he has learned the economic challenges homeowners face today leave some families unable to afford needed repairs.
“There are very few resources available to help these families,” said Schulz, now RTSC vice president. “Their homes fall into serious disrepair, which ultimately leads to unsafe living conditions or the loss of their home.”
Since 1999, RTSC, a local affiliate of Rebuilding Together USA, has completed more than 300 home rehabilitation projects for low-income homeowners and families. The all-volunteer and nonprofit organization provides no-cost home repairs to Sandoval County homeowners who may be experiencing diminishing resources. This year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico’s (BCBSNM) Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative awarded a $25,000 grant to support RTSC’s Safe and Healthy Homes program.
“We’re especially proud to support programs that address housing issues in the communities we serve,” said Janice Torrez, BCBSNM president. “A family’s health can depend on the quality of their living conditions. RTSC’s program is making a direct impact on the lives of New Mexicans by helping them maintain their homes and reducing the negative effects that housing deficiencies can have on families’ well-being.”
RTSC’s commitment to providing safe, sound and healthy homes aligns with BCBSNM’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative, which is an ongoing commitment to invest in and partner with nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs in nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management and supporting safe environments.
“There are too many economically challenged homeowners in our area who simply cannot afford to keep their homes maintained since they spend all their income on food, medicine and other critical needs,” said Schulz
The grant will be used to correct significant housing deficiencies, eliminate safety hazards and create a healthier environment for at least 10 families with children. Having a healthier home environment can help these families find employment, achieve economic mobility and maintain improved health.
According to RTSC, 83% of homeowners felt their homes are safer, healthier and more comfortable after receiving RTSC repairs. “The positive impact from this program is huge. I cannot show enough gratitude. We were in a real dilemma with the leaking roof, and I can’t express how much you helped us,” said a homeowner from Rio Rancho who received home repairs from RTSC.
RTSC has helped 31 households in the past year with a variety of crucial home repairs, including roof and window repairs or replacement, plumbing work, electrical services, stucco maintenance, and renovations to accommodate disabilities.
“It is extremely gratifying to meet these proud and grateful New Mexicans and help them stay safe in their homes,” said Schulz.