Houston & Peach

Perry charity to focus on home repairs

PERRY -- It’s not clear exactly how many houses need repair work in Perry and southern Houston County, but a new organization is joining the fight to tackle the issue of distressed housing.

“I think we’ll have more than enough work,” said Warren Johnson, a former homebuilder who is preparing to launch the Perry, Georgia, Fuller Center for Housing.

At least for the first few years, Johnson said, he expects he will take work referred to his organization through Perry Volunteer Outreach, which has a ministry that handles repairs similar to those taken on by the Fuller Center.

Frank Shelton, a founder of Perry Volunteer Outreach who has volunteered the past 15 years, said his organization has been doing everything it can with the resources it has.

“We’ve been able to put on about a dozen complete roofs this year,” said Shelton, who said Perry Volunteer Outreach doesn’t handle large renovation jobs.

“Most things we do is repairs to existing homes that people can’t do on their own or can’t afford to do,” Shelton said.

That’s similar to the intent of the planned Fuller Center affiliate. Johnson said he plans to focus on “owner-occupied homes and people who need a little bit of help, not just somebody who is waiting for someone to come along and fix their house.”

People who are able to pay something will be asked to contribute, and able-bodied people will be asked to help out with work on their house. Nearly all the work would be done by volunteers, though Johnson said some specialized work -- particularly air conditioning -- could be handled by contractors.

Work could range from fixing leaky plumbing and defective roofs to building wheelchair ramps.

“If it’s a need and it’s a safety or health issue or something that’s going to deteriorate the (house), then no job’s too small, and no job would be too big as long as we’ve got the funding,” Johnson said.

An organizational meeting is planned next month. Johnson said he expects to be repairing houses by next spring. Details, such as how to volunteer, will be settled before then.

The affiliate plans to focus on properties in the Perry city limits as well as in Houston County south of Ga. 96, which is the same area targeted by Perry Volunteer Outreach.

Police Chief Steve Lynn, chairman of a Perry housing team put together by city government, said the planned work sounds similar to what Rebuilding Together has been doing in Warner Robins. Some homeowners need the help, particularly because of restrictions caused by their age, health or income, he said.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.