I make my way carefully up the dark, broken steps.
I place my hand on the door knob and slowly turn it, pushing hard to dislodge the stuck door. The hinges scream as the door finally opens enough to allow me in to the dimly lit space. My heart rate kicks up as I make my way slowly through the room. The sagging ceiling looks like its about to collapse on me so I hurry on toward the next doorway, feeling the same rush of adrenalin I feel when I visit any Halloween spook house.
Unfortunately, I am not in a “haunted house”. I am making a first visit to Dorothy’s home in South Phoenix. And even more unfortunately, Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun staff and volunteers walk into homes in these conditions frequently.
Homes without doors and windows that open and close properly; homes that are so hot inside that its hard to catch your breath; homes with no operational showers; homes without hot water; homes with appliances that don’t work; I could go on but I think you get the picture.
Most of us take warm water and a comfortable indoor temperature for granted, never realizing that many of our neighbors – approximately 16% of the Arizona population-- live below the poverty line and struggle daily with inadequate housing. And as the pandemic rages on and people continue to lose their jobs with no relief in sight, I fear these statistics are going to get worse.
This week more than 1.6 million Arizonans are unemployed. These people are focusing on looking for work and providing the basic needs to keep their families fed and healthy. There is no money to fix a leaky pipe or repair a loose roof tile. The longer the pipe leaks or the tile stays loose, the more damage will occur until the problem becomes insurmountable. Because of our current economic conditions, I fear Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun will see triple the number of requests for help in the next two years than we have seen in the past 6 years combined.
Now that scares me! How will we provide services for so many without adequate resources of our own? The answer is -- without you , we simply can't. You can help us meet these current and future needs by becoming a volunteer; advocating for better local, state and federal support for home repair programs; or making a donation.
Our combined efforts can stop a neighbor from having their own personal nightmare on Elm St., (or Main St., or 11th avenue).
Together, we can ensure all of our neighbors has a safe and healthy haven to call home.